Titans at Redskins
Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
Let’s take a look at the pros, cons, and X factors for the Washington Redskins as they take on the Tennessee Titans on Sunday and then I’ll give my prediction.
Here are two factors that work against a Redskins win:
—Kirk Cousins’ interception issues have been well documented and the Titans are particularly well equipped to take advantage of this weakness. They have seven picks on the year including two each by safety Michael Griffin and cornerback Jason McCourtey. Tennessee has also knocked down 32 passes (compared to 13 for the Redskins). That means the potential for a lot of tipped balls and interceptions.
—The Titans can get after the quarterback some as well. They have 15 sacks, including four by defensive tackle Jurrell Casey. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton will dial up some blitzes, with four more sacks coming from the secondary. The Redskins’ protection schemes need to be in order.
Here are two factors in favor of a Redskins win:
—If Cousins can stay upright and protect the ball he should be able to have a pretty good day. The Titans are in the middle of the pack in pass defense and with Jordan Reed healthy to take some attention away from DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon Cousins should have open targets.
—If I had to bet I’d say that Titans quarterback Jake Locker will sit out tomorrow’s game with a thumb injury and Charlie Whitehurst will be under center. It shouldn’t matter either way. Neither quarterback completes 60 percent of his passes, both have troubles with ball protection (combined five picks and four fumbles), and take too many sacks. It’s not like Washington will automatically take advantage but no matter who plays for Tennessee, the Redskins will be facing the worst QB they have played against all season.
And two X factors:
—The Redskins appear to have gotten past thinking that they are better than they are. When I hear that “it’s a play here and there and just one thing going wrong and it’s a different thing every time” that says to me a team that’s not getting the details right. All NFL teams have 95 percent, maybe 98 percent of everything nailed down pretty well. It’s that last one or two percent that’s hard to get. Have the Redskins buckled down to get those final details taken care of?
—Will the Redskins run the ball? Sure, you can’t pound the rock 40 times during a game when you’re trailing virtually the entire game and the run game isn’t working very well. But Alfred Morris has to get more than 13 carries, his total in each of the last two games. Perhaps they need to get those details nailed down in order to have an effective running game. Regardless, it’s hard to get the running game going if you don’t hand it off. We’ll see is Morris can get that elusive 100-yard game tomorrow.
So what will happen?
So far I have avoided counting the Redskins as one of the league’s very worst teams. I’ve been thinking that they are a cut or two above the Oaklands and Jacksonvilles of the world, a member of that large mass of teams in the middle of the NFL that’s are very good but aren’t truly awful.
But that could change. Numbers don’t always tell the whole truth but a 1-5 record this year, 1-13 in the last 14 games, the worst turnover ratio in the NFL, 21st in points scored, 27th in points scored, and 25th in point differential paint a picture of a team that isn’t very good.
And if the Redskins can’t win a home game against a 2-4 Titans team QB’s by either an inconsistent Locker or a career backup in Whitehurst, well, I’d have to drop the thought that they are mediocre and put them with the dregs of the NFL.
But, for now, I’ll stick with them being mediocre and good enough to beat the Titans. Cousins should survive a pick or even two by being able to move the ball with passes to Jackson and Reed. The running game won’t make anyone forget 2012 but Morris should crack the 100-yard mark. The defense gets a rare takeaway and a few sacks. It’s not a rout but it’s fairly easy.
Redskins 28, Titans 20
(record this year 3-3)