Capitals

Predictions for Steelers-Ravens

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Predictions for Steelers-Ravens

There's plenty of guess about and predict for Sunday night's Ravens-Steelers game.  Here's a few guesses about what's coming:

1. The defense won't shut down the Pittsburgh offense, but will turn in a strong performance-- No Big Ben will help the Ravens, but the defense has been getting better the last few weeks. Are they back to last year's level? No, not yet. But there's no question they're doing better. Terrell Suggs is back and getting towards last year's form. Haloti Ngata's been off a few weeks, and he can make a differennce. Plus, the Ravens might have an easier time with Byron Leftwich at quarterback. Don't forget that he's an experienced NFL guy.

2. Even though the WRs will have some big plays, the Ravens are going to rely heavily on Joe Flacco and Ray Rice-- Those two players are what the Ravens need each week. If both of them turn in strong performances, then that sets up everything else on the Ravens' offense. The Ravens need to get the ball into Rice's hands as often as possible. You're not going to get a lot of big plays against the Steelers, but if the Ravens can move the ball and keep possession, it would help them control the game.

3. The Ravens can't make mistakes-- Now, this is something that can be said for just about every game, but it really holds water here. The Pittsburgh defense is so tough that they could keep the Ravens quiet on offense for stretches, something that's happened to them in road games throughout the season. The Ravens cannot hand the Steelers easy points. If so, that could easily make the difference.

PREDICTION: Ravens 21, Steelers 16-- Don't be fooled, boys and girls. The Steelers might not have Ben Roethlisberger, but they're still a good football team. But the loss of Big Ben will affect them enough to give the Ravens a little help. That should be enough to pull out this win. 

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3 things to watch in Caps vs. Panthers

3 things to watch in Caps vs. Panthers

The Capitals play their last home game of October on Friday as they host the Florida Panthers (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington). Here’s what you need to watch.

Dmitrij Jaskin is back in

Todd Reirden has made one adjustment to the lineup for Friday’s game, putting Dmitrij Jaskin back in on the fourth line in place of Nathan Walker. Jaskin has yet to record a point since joining the Capitals, but that has a lot to do with where he was coming from.

“This team is based on being creative and it's probably something that I missed in the last few years,” Jaskin said following Friday’s morning skate.

In St. Louis, Jaskin was coached by Mike Yeo and, before him, Ken Hitchcock. Both coaches preach a hard-nosed offensive style based more on effort and being defensively responsible than skill. Coming to a team like Washington then, a team that encourages skill and creativity on offense, is a pretty dramatic change.

Jaskin has played a very safe style since coming into the lineup. It’s good to be defensively responsible, but not if it completely chokes the life out of the offense. Jaskin is hardly generating any offense at all thus far since coming to Washington.

After a few more practices, can it finally spark some skill and creativity from Jaskin?

Can the Caps get the bottom six back on track?

The Caps have gotten only two goals in six games from their bottom six and both came in the team’s blowout opening win against Boston. The third and fourth lines generated some chances on Wednesday, but afterward, Reirden stressed that the team needed to see more production from its depth forwards.

“We've got to continue to get scoring depth wise if we want to have success in this league,” he said. “That's where everything's headed is you can't rely on your top guys to come through for you every night and we'll continue to focus on finding the right chemistry with that third and fourth line to be able to give us some added offense there as well.”

Florida could provide a good opportunity for those players to get some points on the board.

Starting goalie Roberto Luongo is out with an injury and James Reimer will get the start on Friday. In three games, Reimer has a GAA of 3.62 and save percentage of .885.

As a team, the Panthers currently rank 24th in goals against per game with 3.50.

Two teams in need of a win

Florida is still searching for its first win of the season with a 0-2-2 record. It is still early, but this is a Panthers team with playoff aspirations and you don’t want to dig yourself in too deep a hole to start or it becomes very difficult to dig out.

The Caps, meanwhile, will be playing in their final home game of October. They leave Saturday for Vancouver to kick-off a three-game Western Canada trip. They then will face the Canadiens in Montreal on Nov. 1 before finally returning home.

Washington’s next home game will not come until Nov. 3. That makes Friday’s game a big one for the Caps as they try to secure two points before hitting the road.

“It's definitely a big game,” Reirden said. “We want to build on some of the things we were able to accomplish last game. It's difficult anytime you go out west with time changes and different stuff. We know that [Florida is] going to be a desperate team that hasn't had the start that they want and they're talented so it's an important game for us to go on the road on a winning note.”

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Redskins need to stop Cowboys' Cole Beasley to win in Week 7

Redskins need to stop Cowboys' Cole Beasley to win in Week 7

When the Redskins take on the Cowboys on Sunday in Week 7, there's one player NBC Sports Washington's resident GM Charley Casserly says they need to contain in this week's "Matchup to Watch."

The player: Wide receiver Cole Beasley

The comparison: Randall Cobb (Packers), Jamison Crowder (Redskins)

Who will cover him: Casserly's guess? Fabian Moreau

The key for the Redskins: Get physical with him. "Jam Beasley off the line of scrimmage," Casserly says, "reroute him and be physical with him."

Click "Play' in the video box above to watch Charley Casserly's full Redskins vs. Cowboys Matchup of the Week.

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