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Redskins vs. Bengals Bold Predictions

Redskins vs. Bengals Bold Predictions

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Get details and order at

These two teams aren’t exactly familiar foes. The last time they played, in 1991, Joe Gibbs was the coach of the Super Bowl-bound Redskins and Washington won 34-27 at Riverfront Stadium. Since then, the stars haven’t quite lined up in the NFL’s scheduling formula for the two teams to meet in the rotation through the other-conference divisions.

Since then, both teams have fallen on hard times. In fact, the Bengals were well on their way to permanent residence in the NFL’s basement. That 1991 loss to the Redskins was one of 13 they suffered that year. That was one of nine seasons since then thatCincinnati has posted double-digit loss totals. Needless to say, they have watched the playoffs on TV each year.

The Redskins haven’t bee quite as moribund, but the five seasons of ten losses or more posted isn’t exactly a record in the proud tradition of a team that has won five world titles.

Both teams are now 3-5 and the loser of this game faces the prospect of another big number in the right-hand column of the standings. The winner, for that matter, is not guaranteed much of anything besides remaining on the cusp of the fringes of playoff contention.

I’ll admit to not having seen much of the Bengals. Besides perusing their stats, the sum total of my scouting of them consists of the ten-minute highlight package that the NFL Network puts together for on-demand distribution to digital cable services.

Cincinnati beat Dallas 26-3 and, from what I saw, they looked pretty impressive. Of course since the Bengals won handily and the package is of just highlights that is to be expected. For example, you don’t see what happened to cause four Cincinnati drives to stall to force four Shayne Graham field goal attempts. Still, there are a couple of things that the Redskins had better not do if they want to win this game.

First, Mark Brunell had better not throw the ball anywhere near a Bengal defender. They made a couple of athletic interceptions of Testaverde. To be sure, based on what we’ve seen so far this year, this would seem to be the least of the Redskins’ worries. Brunell hasn’t thrown the ball near much of anybody.

Second, it would be a mistake to misunderestimate (as George W would say) Carson Palmer. The virtual rookie’s numbers are down there in Brunell land with a 66 quarterback rating. He has taken much of the blame for the step back his team has taken this year. Still, he has a very live arm, and he’s big and can hang in the pocket. While his performance against Dallas may not have been a breakout game, most of us would like to see a line of 21-31 for 212, one TD, zero picks for the Redskins’ QB.

The key to avoiding these dangers, it would seem, would be to keep the ball on the ground and keep Palmer on the sidelines. And here, for the Redskins, is a fortunate confluence of matchups. Clinton Portis is en fuego with performances of well over 100 yards in two of his last three games. It’s been a combination of Portis learning how to follow his blocking better and blocking schemes being tweaked to better cater to Portis’ strengths.

Attempting to stop Portis will be the league’s worst rushing defense. Cincinnati yields nearly 150 yards a game on the ground and that’s after the weak-rushing Cowboys ran for just a buck nine last week. This isn’t one of those statistical flukes, either, where a team’s run defense looks bad because nobody can pass against them. Athletic interceptions notwithstanding, the Cincy pass defense has been thoroughly mediocre and its total defense is 27th in the NFL.

Here’s what to look for on Sunday:

  • Palmer will have some success, but not much. Look for about 150 yards, a touchdown, and maybe a pair of interceptions. Fred Smoot will lock Chad Johnson down. Running back Rudi Johnson won’t find much room either (note to self—bench Johnson on fantasy team). He runs best up the middle and Cornelius Griffin will be in the way there. Johnson will be doing well to get to 60 yards. If the Redskins don’t turn the ball over as the Cowboys did last week, the Bengals will have a tough time scoring against the Washington defense ranked first in the NFL.
  • Cincinnati won’t get those turnovers. Brunell’s best play is the toss into the bench area to avoid the interception. Knock wood, but it seems that Portis has solved the problems that caused some uncharacteristic and untimely fumbles earlier this year. No cheap scores for the visitors.
  • The Redskins will get their offense moving. Now that’s a relative term; I certainly don’t expect an offensive explosion, a match of the 34 points they put up in the last meeting with the Bengals or anything. At some point, however, opposing defenses have to get concerned enough about Portis to open up the passing game a bit more. Brunell shatters the 100-yard barrier, maybe even touches the rarified air of 150. Portis will run wild. If he is to have a near 200-yard game this season, and most backs of his caliber do, this is the week.

All of this adds up to a 24-13 Redskins win.

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it