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Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' chances game by game

Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' chances game by game

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, November 26, 8 days before the Washington Redskins play the Arizona Cardinals.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Off day

Days until: Redskins @ Cardinals 8; Redskins @ Eagles 15; Panthers @ Redskins 23

Looking at the rest of the Redskins’ games

The Redskins have five games remaining on their schedule. Three wins would give them a record of 9-6-1 and a very good shot at the playoffs. More than three almost certainly has them playing in the postseason; two or fewer will have them in trouble.

Let’s take a look at the Redskins’ remaining five opponents and I’ll give my confidence level on the Redskins’ chances of beating each one of them.

For comparison, the Redskins are, as noted, 9-6-1 and their weighted DVOA through Week 11 is 12.7%, ranked 7th.

Cardinals, 4-5-1, DVOA -2.1%, 19th—Carson Palmer, who had a great 2015 season, has faded to a level somewhere below mediocrity, with a 61.5 percent completion rate and a passer rating of 83.6. But Cardinals running back David Johnson is perhaps the best running back in the league not named Zeke. I have concerns that Johnson will leave cleat marks all over the Redskins’ defense just like Elliott did. Confidence the Redskins will win: Moderately low

MORE REDSKINS: STILL IN PLAYOFF POSITION

Eagles, 5-5, DVOA 24.3%, 2nd—Even the Football Outsiders guys have some issues with the Eagles’ DVOA standing. I think they are what their record says they are. Carson Wentz is learning, and head coach Doug Pederson is in over his head (not that he won’t improve over time). They do have a good defense but the Redskins as a team and Kirk Cousins in particular just seem to have their number with five straight wins over them. Confidence: Moderately high

Panthers, 4-6, DVOA -4.7%, 21st—Cam Newton has attempted only 6.9 runs per game, tied for lowest rate of his career. With the diminished threat of the run his 56.5 percent completion rate has become a glaring issue. The Panthers are still second in the NFL is rushing yards so they can take advantage of the Redskins’ defensive weakness. Confidence: Moderate

Bears, 2-8, DVOA -5.0 23rd—This team wasn’t very good to begin with and then an incredible rash of injuries has piled up as the season has gone on. The latest was to quarterback Jay Cutler, who may miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. In short, they’re a mess. Confidence: Very high

RELATED: GRUDEN UPDATES REED’S INJURY STATUS

Giants, 7-3, DVOA 3.3% 15th—We’ll know more about the Giants when this soft part of their schedule (Bears last week, Browns this week) is over and they face three division leaders in the Steelers, Cowboys, and Lions. Right now I like the Redskins at home but I won’t have a very strong feeling until the game gets closer. Confidence: Moderate

Agree with my assessments? Disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

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In case you missed it

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Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

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USA Today Sports Images

Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

Vernon Davis has long been a fan favorite in the D.C. area since his University of Maryland days. The 34-year-old is almost always well-dressed and respectful to the media. 

More recently, he has been outspoken about his interest in acting after his football career. A true renaissance man who just so happens to be a force in the National Football League. 

In April, NBC Sports Washington ran into Davis at the Team USA Awards where he was serving as guest speaker. 

He took his smooth nature to a whole new level Tuesday while vacationing in Ocean City, Md. with his girlfriend Kayla. 

Dressed in all white on the beach, Davis proposed in an epic way. 

The best motivation I ever had. #shesmyrock

A post shared by Vernon Davis (@vernondavis85) on

Check out the whole video produced below. We won't spoil it for you, but there were skydivers involved. Take a look: 

Davis will suit up for his third season with the Redskins when training camp opens July 26 in Richmond. 

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Inside linebackers

Additions: Shaun Dion Hamilton (drafted in the fifth round)

Departures: Will Compton (free agent)

Starters: Zach Brown, Mason Foster

Other roster locks: Josh Harvey-Clemons

On the bubble: Hamilton, Zach Vigil, Martrell Spaight

How the inside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: This is a difficult comparison to make since only about half of the teams use the 3-4 with two inside linebackers and there are many variations when they go out of their base defense. Brown certainly is in the upper tier of players at his position. Foster’s skill set may not be coveted by many teams around the league, but he is a perfect fit in the Redskins’ defense in many ways. The player who could differentiate this group from others around the league is Harvey-Clemons. If he turns into a top-notch nickel LB the inside linebackers will be a great asset. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  This is about health. In 2017, Foster missed 11 games, Brown was hampered by a variety of injuries before sitting out the last three games. Compton was the top backup to both players and he went to injured reserve after just three starts. They did re-sign Vigil, who had spent training camp with the team, and he played pretty well near the end of the season. If the front-line players can stay on the field for most of the season this should be a much better group than the one that was partially responsible for the league’s 32nd-ranked rushing defense. 

2018 Inside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: The 2017 season was supposed to be a redshirt year for Harvey-Clemons as he transitions from college safety to NFL linebacker. He played a lot in the base defense during the offseason practices and that indicates that they are considering him for a bigger role beyond just playing nickel. You have to wonder how his size (6-4, 230) will affect his ability to get off of blocks. 

Most to prove: Spaight was a fifth-round pick in 2015 and he has yet to establish a regular role in the defense. It was telling that when they needed someone to start in the latter part of last year they brought back and started Vigil and mostly kept Spaight is going into the last year of his contract, but it would not be surprising to see Vigil beat him out for the last roster spot.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins traded up in the sixth round to get Hamilton. It wasn’t a blockbuster deal but the fact that they thought enough of him to move up says something. Gruden has said that he thinks Hamilton could be a starter at some point. He was one of the leaders on a strong Alabama defense before injuries struck. Hamilton is not going to start this year barring multiple injuries, but he should develop a role as the season goes on and be ready to compete in 2019.

Bottom line: The Redskins have not invested much in terms of free agent dollars or draft capital in the inside linebacker position in recent seasons. That changed somewhat this offseason as they made sure to spend to retain Brown and Foster. Neither commanded a huge contract but they did make a commitment and that is important. Last year Brown gave the defense a sideline-to-sideline dimension it hasn’t had in quite some time and retaining him was critical. Inside linebacker may not be a major strength for the defense this year but it should be able to get the job done. 

2018 Redskins position outlook series