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Vegas predicts fall from first place for Redskins

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Vegas predicts fall from first place for Redskins

Last Sunday the Redskins snapped an ugly streak, winning their first road game in more than a year. If some Washington fans seemed subdued after the victory in Chicago, the fallout was even worse from the crowd in Las Vegas.

Despite the win that kept the 'Skins in first place of the NFC East going into Week 14, and with tiebreakers over the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles, Bovada.lv dropped the odds of an NFC East title for Washington. Per Bovada, the Redskins now sit behind both the Eagles (13/10) and Giants (2/1) as the favorite to win the NFC East title at 9/4. It's worth repeating: all three have the same record (6-7) and the 'Skins currently hold tiebreakers over both.

This weekend, Washington faces 6-7 Buffalo at home. The Giants get the undefeated Panthers in New York while the Eagles host the 11-2 Cardinals. On paper, Kirk Cousins and the 'Skins have the best matchup, but Vegas must not see things that way. 

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Perhaps what shows how little faith the wise guys have in the NFC East overall comes from the odds on the Dallas Cowboys. Currently sitting at 4-9, the Cowboys have the best division record, and per Bovada, still have a 25/1 shot to win the division crown. 

But back to the 'Skins: Washington has the most favorable matchup this weekend, then plays in Philly next week. After that, they face the Cowboys in Dallas. The math says Jay Gruden's bunch faces the weakest schedule, and in turn, logic would say that should increase their odds. Only it doesn't work that way in Vegas, belying the nationally view of the Redskins. 

Washington has a chance to change that paradigm this weekend, and to their credit, the Redskins seemed focused on the task at hand, not chasing the NFC East title with three games to go.

"The ability to have a chance to play for a division championship this late in the year is very exciting to a lot of people," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. 'We also have to stay focused. We have to work extremely hard."

Cousins echoed that sentiment: "When you start to look further down the road you just get overwhelmed. So for me, I just feel like I have enough to focus on with just the Bills alone."

The QB's comments are smart. The Redskins are yet to win consecutive games this season, and Buffalo has dynamic players on both sides of the field. Washington has improved greatly, but not nearly enough to take an opponent for granted. 

But, really, Vegas thinks Sam Bradford and the Eagles are the best bet to win the NFC East? Over Eli Manning, Odell Beckham and the Giants? Should the Redskins be the favorite?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Da'Ron Payne's first reaction after being drafted No. 13 by the Redskins

Da'Ron Payne's first reaction after being drafted No. 13 by the Redskins

Many top draft choices chose to head to the NFL Draft, hear their name called and get the pomp and circumstance that comes with all that is the NFL Draft. 

The Washington Reskins' No. 13 pick Da'Ron Payne was not one of those prospects. 

Instead, Payne watched the draft surronded by close friends and family.

The reaction was memorable: 

Some draft picks choose not to come for fear of slidding down draft boards, or worse: not being picked in the first round at all. 

So he doesn't get to meet Roger Goodell. He doesn't get a Redskins' jersey on draft night.

But this video wouldn't exist if the defensive tackle from Alabama chose to go to Dallas, Texas on draft night. 

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Redskins hope Da'Ron Payne will be able to solidify a porous run defense

Redskins hope Da'Ron Payne will be able to solidify a porous run defense

Doug Williams said that the Redskins would draft the best available player when they were on the clock. 

“It’s always going to be the best player available,” said the team’s senior vice president of player personnel during the team’s pre-draft press conference earlier this week

After their selection, it appears that they took a pick that was more for need. They picked defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne with safety Derwin James and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds still on the board, Jay Gruden said that there was some discussion. 

“There were quite a few guys were worthy of that pick, quite frankly,” said Gruden. “But for what we were looking for, with the fit, I think Da’Ron was perfect for us.”

The words “for what we were looking for” seem to indicate that they took Payne because they thought they needed someone at that position. 

While Payne is unlikely to be a pick that the Redskins will regret, they may look at what James and Edmunds, both players that most analysts had ranked considerably higher than Payne, accomplish during their careers and wonder what could have been. 

Then again, Payne is a pick that is about eight years overdue. The Redskins have been running the 3-4 defense since 2010 and they have never drafted a good nose tackle. Others they have tried, like Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton, have been short-term solutions. For the past two years, the position has been manned by veteran Ziggy Hood, who is more suited to playing the end position. 

The result of the nose tackle situation in particular and neglect of the defensive line in general has been a rushing defense that has consistently in the lower half of the league, bottoming out at No. 32 in rushing yards allowed in 2017. The need to stop the run took a step up in importance earlier in the draft when the Giants selected running back Saquan Barkley with the second pick in the draft, a factor that Gruden cited when talking to the media after the pick. They already had twice-yearly dates with the Cowboys with Ezekiel Elliott at running back and the Eagles, who have a stable of effective running backs. 

Although at 311 pounds Payne may be considered a bit on the light side for a traditional nose tackle, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula has said in the past that a lighter player can be effective in that role in the team’s defense. 

The main concern about Payne is if he can rush the passer. In his three seasons at Alabama, he compiled just three sacks. Gruden said that that number doesn’t tell the whole story. 

“He can, he can get back there,” said Gruden. “A lot of times, the sacks that don’t show up on the stat board, he enabled other guys to get them, because push from the pocket forces the quarterback outside. I think that [Redskins edge rushers] Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson will be very happy to have Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne in the middle pushing that pocket.”

Gruden also expressed confidence Tomsula will be able to coach Payne into being an effective NFL pass rusher. 

We will see what Tomsula and the rest of the coaches can do with Payne. If they can get some pressures and sacks out of him and the ability to stop the run translates to the NFL, the Redskins will have received good value for the 13thpick, even if James and Edmonds go on to be stars. 

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