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What to watch for: Redskins turn to short passing game instead of runs

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What to watch for: Redskins turn to short passing game instead of runs

The Redskins ran the ball 37 times against the Dolphins, the most they had run the ball during a competitive game during the Jay Gruden era (they did run 42 times during the blowout of the Jaguars in Week 2 last year). But only 11 of those rushing attempts came in the second half with the game within one score the entire time. That drew some fire from fans saying that Gruden abandoned the running game, which was working very well, with Alfred Morris rolling for 4.8 yards per run.

But CBS put up an interesting graphic during the fourth quarter charting Kirk Cousins’ 10 passing attempts starting with the four-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Reed just after the two-minute warning. Here it is:

Note the emphasis on the short passing game. If the defense is expecting you to run the ball, the normal way to counter this in a West Coast offense is to go to the short passing game. After Morris’ first carry of the second half went for minus-2 yards, Gruden tried the short passing game some. Short passes to fullback Darrel Young and wide receiver Jamison Crowder gained nothing and the Redskins punted.

The next possession it was short left to receiver Pierre Garçon for six and then Cousins hit Reed for the 25. An attempted screen to tight end Derek Carrier lost a yard, then a series of penalties pushed the Redskins out of field goal range.

The Redskins ran three times on their next possession, which was marred by penalties. The ensuing punt was the one that Jarvis Landry took to the house and the Redskins trailed the rest of the way.

They ran once in their first possession after the punt return and also tried a lateral to Andre Roberts, who misplayed the ball. That resulted in a fumble charged to Cousins that fortunately went out of bounds.

In their final series, the Redskins ran three of the nine plays with Morris gaining seven and 13 yards on the first two carries. But when he was caught for a loss of one on first down from the Miami 23 with three minutes left, the running game was pretty much out of the picture.

I have said that the Redskins probably should have run the ball more often in the second half. But note that some passes can have the same effect as runs and they are used as a change of pace. That’s what Gruden did here and it likely will be part of the game plan all year long.

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2017 NFL Power Rankings: The NFC is much better than the AFC through 11 weeks

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USA TODAY Sports

2017 NFL Power Rankings: The NFC is much better than the AFC through 11 weeks

Through 11 weeks, the NFL's playoff picture is far from clear. But one thing is: The NFC is the superior conference. 

And that's not just because Nathan Peterman plays in the AFC.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S NEW POWER RANKINGS CAN BE FOUND RIGHT HERE

In this week's rankings, seven teams in the top 10 come from the NFC. The middle and back-end of the rankings even out, but at the top, one side of the league is stronger than the other.

The bottom line is that a few deserving squads in the NFC will miss out on the postseason. Meanwhile, in the opposite conference, a couple of mediocre ones will be playing in January.

To see who lands where overall in the post-Week 11 breakdown, click the link above or below. You know who No. 32 is, but there was plenty of movement in the other 31 spots.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S NEW POWER RANKINGS CAN BE FOUND RIGHT HERE

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Week 12 Redskins vs. Giants Thanksgiving Game Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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USA Today Sports Images

Week 12 Redskins vs. Giants Thanksgiving Game Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Redskins enter Week 12 against the Giants on Thanksgiving looking for a lot of thanks. 

The Redskins were up by 15 points with less than 5 minutes to go against the Saints in Week 11. Despite being major underdogs, they thought they had the win in hand.

Then, as D.C. fans have witnessed all too often, everything fell apart.

Even after their terrific Week 9 win in Seattle, the Redskins still probably needed to split the next two against the Vikings and Saints.

It seemed like they had done exactly that, right up until Drew Brees reminded everyone why he's one of the greatest passers in NFL history.

The loss was doubly painful, as everybody's favorite breakout star Chris Thompson suffered a fractured fibula and will undergo season-ending surgery. Thompson has been one of the few bright spots on offense this season, and his loss will be felt by a team clinging to its playoff hopes.

Despite seeing yet another key cog go down with an injury this season, the team will look to bounce back against one of their NFC East rivals. The Giants have been one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, but are coming off a 12-9 win over a quality Chiefs squad, so the Redskins will have to show up ready to play.

On a short week against a division rival, anything can happen. Every game matters, but this is as much of a must-win for the Redskins as it gets. It's Thanksgiving night, and the Redskins will have the stage all to themselves. 

Before the Week 12 Redskins-Giants matchup, here's a preview of everything you need to know, including game time, TV channel and live-stream info.

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

WEEK 12 Redskins vs. Giants

Who: New York Giants at Washington Redskins

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, MD

What: Week 12 of the 2017 NFL season

When: Thursday, November 23, 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Live Stream: Fubo.TV: Online with no cableTV: fuboTV (Try for free)

Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Betting Odds: According to OddsShark.com, the Washington Redskins are 7.5-point favorites against the New York Giants.

Washington Redskins 2017 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1 (Sun. 9/10): 30-17 loss vs. Eagles (0-1)

Week 2 (Sun. 9/17): 27-20 win at Rams (1-1)

Week 3 (Sun. 9/24): 27-10 win vs. Raiders (2-1)

Week 4 (Mon. 10/2): 29-20 loss at Chiefs (2-2)

Week 5 (Sun. 10/8): BYE WEEK

Week 6 (Sun. 10/15): 26-24 win vs. 49ers (3-2)

Week 7 (Mon. 10/23): 34-24 loss at Eagles (3-3)

Week 8 (Sun. 10/29): 33-19 loss vs. Cowboys (3-4)

Week 9 (Sun. 11/5): 17-14 win at Seahawks (4-4)

Week 10 (Sun. 11/12): 38-30 loss vs. Vikings (4-5)

Week 11 (Sun. 11/29): 34-31 OT loss at Saints (4-6)

Week 12 (Thurs. 11/23): vs. New York Giants, 8:30 p.m.

Week 13 (Thurs. 11/30): at Dallas Cowboys, 8:25 p.m. 

Week 14 (Sun. 12/10): at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. 

Week 15 (Sun. 12/17): vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1:00 p.m. 

Week 16 (Sun. 12/24): vs. Denver Broncos, 1:00 p.m.

Week 17 (Sun. 12/31): at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m. 

MORE REDSKINS: WEEKLY MVP'S ON REDSKINS OFFENSE AND DEFENSE