NEW ORLEANS—Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 8, six days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.
Here is my last look at tonight’s game between the Redskins and Saints.
Run the ball but don’t rely on the run
I’m hearing a lot of talk that the key will be for the Redskins to run the ball and control the clock, keeping Drew Brees on the sideline. Well, I heard a lot of that before the game against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. And the Redskins won by 14 despite having a two-minute disadvantage in time of possession and running 11 fewer offensive plays than Green Bay. Yes, they also got 166 rushing yards, so the ground game helped. But they need to score however they can, whether the drive takes two minutes like their first TD drive against the Packers did, or six minutes like their second one did.
Get off to a fast start
The Redskins have outscored the opposition 49-10 in the first halves of their two wins. Getting off to a fast start will be even more important tonight. That Superdome gets loud when the Saints are rolling. The visitors won’t have to jump out two a two-touchdown lead. Last year, the Redskins kept the fans nervous with an early D.J. Swearinger interception and by taking first-half leads of 10-3 and 17-10. They didn’t get really loud again until, well, you know when.
It’s better if Josh Doctson (questionable, heel) plays
Whenever I tweeted an update about Doctson’s injury I got replies saying that it didn’t matter, the 2016 first-round pick hasn’t done much this year anyway. And it’s true, Doctson has barely made a dent with his five receptions for 48 yards.
But it is a mistake to say that the Redskins are better off without him. If Doctson's out, the Redskins would have to get by with Maurice Harris, who has 12 career receptions, Brian Quick, who had six catches last year, and Michael Floyd, who has had just a couple of weeks on the field to learn the offense. It’s a matter of depth and the Redskins don’t have much at the wide receiver position without Doctson.
A strong finish?
As I have noted a few times this week that the Saints’ pass defense is not very good. They allow more yards per pass attempt (9.6) than Brees gains per pass attempt (8.0). You have to think that Alex Smith will be able to take advantage of this. And I think that the Redskins’ secondary, in the top five in key defensive metrics, will contain Brees. By that I mean he won’t go off for around 400 yards like he has twice this year.
If the game unfolds like that, it will come down to two things. First, can they contain Alvin Kamara, who is averaging 153 yards from scrimmage per game? And can they finish what they start? They weren’t able to do either last year and they saw a big lead melt away. Will things be different this year?
I think they will. I’m calling the upset.
Redskins 31, Saints 27
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