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Week 13 Redskins at Cowboys: Before a stretch run, Washington must get even

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Week 13 Redskins at Cowboys: Before a stretch run, Washington must get even

The Redskins travel to Dallas for a Thursday night with two big opportunities: Draw even on the season, and get revenge for a home loss a few weeks back. This game amounts to a prequel to the playoffs for both teams, as each squad sits at 5-6 and with slim hopes of pushing for a Wild Card spot. 

A win for either team means continued life in the chase for a playoff spot. A loss, and a record of 5-7, likely spells the end of postseason aspirations. 

BE SURE TO TUNE IN TO NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON+ THURSDAY AT 7 P.M. FOR A SPECIAL 30 MINUTE TRIBUTE TO THE LATE SEAN TAYLOR. 

Plenty is on the line, not to mention one of the oldest and most bitter rivalries in the NFL. There is plenty to watch and take notice, but here are the three biggest to monitor:

  1. Running in different directions - The biggest headline in Dallas these days is the continued absence of star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who's out serving a six-game suspension. The contest against the Redskins will mark the fourth straight contest Zeke will miss, and without him, the Cowboys offense has collapsed. Dallas hasn't scored double digits in their last three contests, and has been blown out in consecutive national television contests. The Redskins, meanwhile, suddenly appear to have found their ground game. In consecutive games, rookie running back Samaje Perine has gone over the 100-yard mark, the first time that's happened in the Jay Gruden era. Washington will again look to feature Perine on the ground, and Dallas will hope that former Redskins star RB Alfred Morris can get their offense moving again. 
  2. Better, and worse - Injuries have been a major subplot, maybe even the main plot, to the Redskins 2017 season. Stars like Chris Thompson and Jonathan Allen hit the injured reserve, and a slew of other important players have missed games. Near the top of that list would be Pro Bowlers Trent Williams and Jordan Reed. Williams, the star left tackle, looks like he will play in Dallas, good news after he missed the Thanksgiving win over the Giants. Reed, however, will miss the Cowboys game, and the whispers about his eventual return don't seem good. The star tight end hasn't played since before Halloween, and speaking to reporters, Gruden couldn't say if Reed's return would come in "one week or four weeks." 
  3. Too good to ignore anymore - Kirk Cousins and the Redskins have weaved a curious quilt, one without any long-term commitment but plenty of guaranteed cash. Usually the conversation around Cousins talks about a QB that is good, but not great. Cousins stats in 2017 disprove that theory. Washington's sixth-year quarterback has numbers that are better than any passer in the league not named Tom Brady, Carson Wentz or Drew Brees. Don't believe it? Check the stats. The QB has an opportunity to cement his name among the top tier of the NFL if the Redskins can win out and force their way into the playoffs, especially as Cousins runs the point of an offense without deep receiving threats, an oft-injured offensive line and missing their Pro Bowl tight end. Cousins knows what is in front of him, but won't lose sight of the immediate task at hand either, "We have got to go 1-0 each week. If we do that, we do have a chance at the end of this season, but we can’t put ourselves in that position at the end of December unless we win this week. So there is really no point in looking beyond this week and that’s where I am going to focus."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Jay Gruden talking about Kirk Cousins' 2017 performance.

I think his progress, I mean, you would be a blind man if you don’t see him making huge strides throughout his career. So I have been impressed with Kirk [Cousins] and his progress. I just think there is so much more for him to grab as far as getting better and better. The sky is the limit for him.

News & Notes

  • Vernon Davis needs 49 yards to become the ninth tight end in NFL history with 7,000 career receiving yards. 
  • The Redskins rank third in the NFL with less than six penalties per game.
  • Zach Brown is first in the NFL and the NFC with 110 tackles.
  • Kirk Cousins is first in the NFL in passing plays of 25 yards or more with 32. He ranks second in the NFL in passing yards, behind only Tom Brady
  • At 22 years old, Kendall Fuller is the youngest member of the Redskins to record at least four interceptions in a season since Sean Taylor’s four-interception season at 21 years of age in 2004.

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The best players on the Redskins according to their Madden 19 ratings

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USA Today Sports

The best players on the Redskins according to their Madden 19 ratings

Madden 19 won't be released to the public until August 10, but the player ratings for the top players on each NFL team have been released.

The video reaches the Redskins a little after four minutes in. The top nine players on the Redskins, according to their Madden 19 overall ratings are as follows:

  1. LT Trent Williams, 91
  2. RG Brandon Scherff, 88
  3. FS D.J. Swearinger, 86
  4. MLB Zach Brown, 85
  5. CB Josh Norman, 84
  6. RB Chris Thompson, 83
  7. WR Paul Richardson, 83
  8. QB Alex Smith, 81
  9. WR Jamison Crowder, 81

The list has Washington's two best linemen up top followed by its best skill position players and Zach Brown. Beyond Williams and Sherff, there's some debate to be had. Both Richardson and Crowder can make a serious case to be the team's best receiver. Crowder had 22 more receptions and 86 more yards than Richardson in 2017, but Richardson had six touchdowns to Crowder's three.

Smith is coming off arguably the best season of his career with Kansas City. He put up over 4,000 passing yards for the first time in his career, posted career bests in quarterback rating, touchdown passes, interception percentage and completions. His rating as the fifth-best offensive player behind two other skill position players seems off.

These rankings will change throughout the season as more updates become available, but this is what there is to work with right now.

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Redskins schedule preview: Week 15 vs. Jaguars

Redskins schedule preview: Week 15 vs. Jaguars

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the game against the Jaguars. 

Week 15 December 16, TIAA Bank Field

2017 Jaguars: 10-6, First in AFC South, lost AFC championship game 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 9

Early line: Redskins +8

Key additions: G Andrew Norwell, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Donte Moncrief, 

Key losses:WR Allen Hurns, WR Allen Robinson

Biggest questions: 

  • QB Blake Bortles was very inconsistent during the season and there was talk of the team looking for a replacement for him prior to their run in the playoffs. Does he have what it takes to get the team back into serious contention. 
  • The team also got an inconsistent season out of RB Leonard Fournette, the No. 4 pick in the draft. Can he put together the monster season that would justify his draft status and help elevate the Jaguars to elite status. 
  • The Jaguars went from 25thin scoring defense in 2016 to second last year. Will they fall back to the pack this year?

Series history

The Redskins lead the all-time series 5-1. The Jaguars only win against them came in 2002.

Series notables

The first time: September 28, 1997, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium—In the second game ever played at the Redskins’ new stadium, Jacksonville took a 9-0 lead in the second quarter, but then-Jags QB Mark Brunell threw a pair of interceptions that set up two Washington touchdowns and the Redskins won 24-12. Gus Frerotte threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns and Terry Allen gained 122 yards on 36 carries. 

The last time: November 14, 2012, FedEx Field—Jay Gruden got his first win as the Redskins’ head coach in this one. Robert Griffin III went out of this game early with an injury and Kirk Cousins passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns in his place. It was the defense that dominated this game, racking up 10 sacks, tying the team record set in 1977. Ryan Kerrigan got four of those sacks, tying the team individual record for sacks in a game. The Redskins won 41-10.

The best time: October 1, 2006, FedEx Field—A taught, exciting game came to an explosive end when Santana Moss snared a pass that Mark Brunell perhaps should not have thrown and streaked to the end zone, giving the Redskins a 36-30 overtime win over Jacksonville.

The reason the throw was risky was that two defenders were near Moss as Brunell fired it to the speedy receiver. Somehow both of them missed it. Moss grabbed it, spun around and bolted the rest of the way to complete the 68-yard game winner.

It was Moss’ third touchdown reception of the day. In the first quarter, he caught a long pass from Brunell and executed a nifty spin move near the goal line to complete the 55-yard touchdown play. An eight-yard Moss TD catch early in the third quarter put the Redskins up by 10 but the Jags battled back to tie it with six seconds left. That set up Moss’ overtime heroics. 

The worst time: November 10, 2002, Alltel Stadium—The Redskins came into the game riding a two-game winning streak and at 4-4 they were squarely in playoff contention. A strong running game had been their best asset during their surge to .500 and, with the Jaguars sporting the worst run defense in the NFL, there was every reason to believe that the Redskins would take the land route to another win.

But coach Steve Spurrier had different ideas. "I was dumb enough to think we could throw it up and down the field," Spurrier said. "We ran a little bit here and there. We had a little success there early, and I got away from it too much. The second quarter, I kept thinking at midfield, we could throw the ball from there. But we didn't do it very well. So, looking back, I called a lousy game."

His defense didn’t play very well either. The Redskins scored first but the Jaguars scored 26 unanswered points and came out with a 26-7 win.

Redskins schedule series

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