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State of the Redskins, Week 12: Home, (very) sweet home

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State of the Redskins, Week 12: Home, (very) sweet home

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 12 of the NFL season.

Record: 4-6, T-2nd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 1-1
vs. NFC: 4-3
vs. AFC: 0-3
Home: 4-1
Away: 0-5

Key stats changes from 2014-2015

 

Rankings (through Sunday’s games)

Offense (yards/game): 332.8 (28th)
Defense (yards/game): 370.1 (20th)
Passer rating offense:  89.6 (17th)
Opp passer rating: 100.1 (27th )
Yards/rush attempt: 3.9 (25th)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.8 (30th)
Weighted DVOA through Week 11 (Football Outsiders): -6.0% (20th)

Top three storylines:

Home, (very) sweet home—The Redskins are still in the hunt for the NFC East title thanks to their ability to win at home. They are winless in five road games but 4-1 in the friendly confines of FedEx Field. The team will have to figure out a way to win away from home if they are going to make the playoffs but they don’t have to worry about that for a while since their next two games are at home. If they win both they will be no worse than tied for first place with a quarter of the season to go.

Ground game problem persist—The Redskins rushed for 14 yards against the Panthers and gave up 142 on the ground. NFL teams have done that 29 times since 1990 and they are 0-29. It’s apparent that the team won’t meet its stated offseason goal of being able to run at will and shut down the other team’s running game. But if they can show some improvement on both sides of the ball they will have a shot in these last six games.

In the playoff picture—They need to beat the Giants to have any realistic shot at the NFC East title, which is probably their only chance at playing more than 16 games. The scenarios are complex but the most promising path seems to be the Redskins winning their remaining three home games (Giants, Cowboys, Bills) and steal one on the road (Bears, Eagles, Cowboys) and come out ahead on tiebreakers. It’s drawing to an inside straight but it is possible.

Next three games

Sunday vs. Giants (5-5)—The Giants are just a bad matchup for the Redskins. New York has won six of the last seven games between the two teams and most of them haven’t been competitive. Home division games are always significant and this one is of elevated importance due to what’s at stake in the standings.

December 7 (Mon. night) vs. Cowboys (2-7)—With Tony Romo back, the Cowboys ended their seven-game losing streak by beating the Dolphins. But even with their QB back the Cowboys are a shadow of the team that rolled to a 12-4 record and were within a Dez Bryant dropped pass (and, yes, per the rules it was a drop) of the NFC title game.

December 13 @ Bears (4-6)—The Bears were in disarray early in the season and Jay Cutler was either the joke or the punch line. But coach John Fox righted the ship and they have gone 4-3 since their 0-3 start. Cutler has thrown just six interceptions after leading the league with 18 a year ago. A road game in the Windy City in December will be quite interesting.

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Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants

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USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ ugly 20-10 win vs. the Giants.

A Win is a Win:
If you are worried about style points you are doing it wrong. This was a banged up team on a short week playing for its life. Perhaps a better start would have made for a more comfortable win but they got done what they needed to do.

Jamison Crowder is on a Roll
:
He gained a career-high 141 yards on seven receptions. The yardage broke his career high of 123 that he set in Week 8. The third-year receiver got off to very slow start, not posting over 52 yards in any game.

But he has broken out of his slump in a big way and Kirk Cousins is very glad to see it.

Perine is Ready:
The rookie was elevated into the starting role after Rob Kelley went onto injured reserve two weeks ago. His importance elevated when Chris Thompson went out for the year with a broken leg.

Fortunately for the Redskins, his play has elevated since becoming the starter. He rushed for 117 yards against the Saints on Sunday. Thursday, four days later, he couldn’t get anything going in the first half, gaining only three yards on seven carries. But he got rolling in the second half and finished with 100 yards on 24 carries.

The Redskins may well have lost this game if Perine, the only back who was on the roster as of three weeks ago, had not gotten himself on track.

MUST-SEE: BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING VICTORY

Defense Got Help: 
Eli Manning passed for 113 yards. Only six times in his career, which spans 211 games, has he thrown for fewer yards. There are three entities mainly responsible for Eli’s woes. The Redskins defense did a good job of putting pressure on him and for the most part the back seven played well in coverage. But Eli himself contributed to his own production problems.

On many occasions he had time to throw and a receiver open but he either sailed the ball well over the receiver’s head or threw it in the ground. Finally, when Manning did have time and delivered the ball on the money, his receivers frequently were unable to find the handle; there were several costly drops.

RELATED: BIGGEST UP'S AND DOWN'S FROM REDSKINS-GIANTS

There is Hope:
It’s too early in the weekend to go into much detail about the Redskins chances of making the playoffs but the losses earlier in the day by the Lions and Cowboys certainly helped.

It’s still a tough path to navigate.

But they did what they needed to do today in winning one of six games that looked winnable earlier this week. All they can do is try to get a winning streak together and they did all they could do in that regard on Thanksgiving.

Now it’s on to Dallas to see if they can take the next step.

MORE: THIS ONE THROW SHOWS HOW COUSINS IS EVOLVING

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

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Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw

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USA TODAY Sports

Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw

LANDOVER — At times during the Redskins' 20-10 Thanksgiving night victory over the Giants, Kirk Cousins and Washington's offense performed at a level somewhere between sloppy nausea-inducing.

There was that awful sequence where the offense botched a fourth-and-1 more than they normally do.

There was also No. 8's slightly off-target throw to a running back he barely knows that ended up as six points for New York. And there were plenty less notable, but still gross, plays before and after those.

But Cousins' first touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder was far from gross. It was beautiful. It was creative.

And it showed how the 29-year-old is still developing as a quarterback:

MUST-SEE: BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING VICTORY

"The touchdown he had to Crowder was one of his best touchdown passes that I've seen since I've been here," Jay Gruden said about it afterward.

He's right.

By now, you know the boxes that Cousins checks off as a passer. He has the requisite arm strength. He's usually able to move an offense, even one like the Redskins' 2017 version that includes a ton of spare parts, up and down the field. He has the work ethic and leadership skills. 

But a common knock against him is that he can't extend a play and find a receiver when things aren't there during his initial dropback. And that weakness becomes a glaring one in the red zone.

Yet on Thanksgiving night, there Cousins was, avoiding an edge rusher, stepping up, rolling right and then nailing Crowder right on the numbers for a crucial TD. Like his head coach, Cousins was proud of how that score unfolded.

"I felt some pressure so I just tried to escape up and to the right and kept my eyes down field," he said. "I think just the longer I play, I'll get a better feel for how to move and escape."

MORE: ALL OF THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE THANKSGIVING WIN

Cousins' final stats don't stack up to some of his past performances, such as his Week 11 effort in New Orleans where he shined or his pretty perfect evening vs. the Raiders in Week 3. Regardless, this one was encouraging in its own way, because it provided another grlimpse at how the signal caller is becoming more comfortable when things around him become uncomfortable.

Like most of his fellow starters in the league, Cousins has flaws. But the more he plays, the more those flaws diminish. Gruden sees it, he sees it, and you should see it, too.