Redskins at Cardinals
Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Let’s take a look at the pros, cons, and X factors for the Redskins as they take on the Cardinals on Sunday and then I’ll give my prediction.
Here are two factors that work against a Redskins win:
—Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd make up one of the best pairs of receivers the Redskins will face all year. They are off to slow starts with Fitzgerald sitting on 13 catches and Floyd on 12. But that means that they both are due to break out with a big performance. They also need to look out for rookie John Brown, who has three touchdown receptions.
—The Redskins are banged up on defense. It seems unlikely that Jack linebacker Perry Riley will be able to play meaning that untested Will Compton could start. Safety Ryan Clark is truly questionable, meaning that there is a 50-50 chance that he will play. Brian Orakpo also is questionable with an ankle injury. It seems likely that he’ll play but he could be hampered by the ankle. Add it all up and a shaky defense gets to be even more of a question mark.
Here are two factors in favor of a Redskins win:
—Calais Campbell is not only the Cardinals best defensive lineman, he might be their best defensive player period, although you could make a case for Patrick Peterson. But Campbell will not be playing due to a knee injury he suffered last Sunday against the Broncos. The Cardinals will aggressively try to rush Kirk Cousins but it simply won’t be as effective with rookie third-round draft pick Kareem Martin at right end.
—The Redskins are coming off of their second multi-sack game of the season after downing Russell Wilson three times on Monday. The Cardinals have given up nine sacks in their four games (they had their bye Week 3). This is a good opportunity for the Redskins to rack up a few more sacks and maybe turn one or two of them into takeaways.
And two X factors:
—The Arizona quarterback situation is up in the air. Carson Palmer is very unlikely to play with a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder and backup Drew Stanton still trying to pass the concussion protocol tests, the best bet at this moment is that rookie Logan Thomas will start at quarterback for Arizona. He was drafted in the fourth round out of Virginia Tech as a project. Well, the cement might not be set and the drywall is still being hung but they might have to push him out there anyway in a game that counts.
—The team’s will to win—or, more precisely, their hatred of losing—came into question after some jovial behavior was seen in the locker room by reporters after the loss to Seattle. Players will tell you that they give their best effort every game and that no outside factors provide any “extra” incentive. But it wouldn’t be surprising if the Redskins are a little bit more focused and determined to prove that they are not happy losers. There should be a little extra fight in them on Sunday.
So what will happen?
Late word out of Arizona is that there is a good chance that Stanton will be able to play. The game was not going to be a layup even if Logan Thomas was the starter—which he still could be—but Stanton played like a legitimate NFL quarterback in his three starts.
Pass rush will be the key here. Stanton has completed just over 50 percent of his passes under pressure. He has 10 completions and has been sacked five times.
It will be tough for the Redskins to win this one on the ground. Washington couldn’t get Alfred Morris untracked against the Seahawks last week. Seattle leads the league, allowing 2.6 yards per carry. The Cardinals are second, allowing 3.0 yards per attempt.
It will come down to Cousins. Last Monday’s game against Seattle showed that he can keep his team in a game even when the rushing game isn’t working. If Cousins can clean up his accuracy on some of the shorter throws—Gruden said last week that he tends to make the hard throws look easy and the easy throws look hard—he could have a big day.
Redskins 31, Cardinals 20
(record this year 3-2)