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Need to Know: Chargers' Rivers is having a career year

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Need to Know: Chargers' Rivers is having a career year

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 30, four days before the Washington Redskins host the San Diego Chargers.

Nickel coverage

Five things you need to know about the Redskins’ matchup with the Chargers:

1. As noted here yesterday, the Chargers are last in the NFL with just four takeaways. Just like DeAngelo Hall, San Diego has three interceptions and a fumble recovery. Some of this just has to be bad luck. Over the course of a season, about half of fumbles will be recovered by the fumbling team, half by the other team. The Chargers’ opponents have fumbled seven times and the odds are that they should have recovered three or four of them. Redskins fans should hope that the Chargers’ luck doesn’t start to turn on Sunday.

2. West coast teams are notorious for traveling and struggling during games that start at 1:00 in the Eastern Time zone (10 a.m. according to the players’ body clocks). But two of the Chargers’ four wins have come in the east. They beat the Eagles in Philly in Week 2 and then flew back in Week 7 and beat the Jaguars.

3. Philip Rivers is having quite the career renaissance under new head coach Mike McCoy. Rivers is leading the league with an astounding completion percentage of 73.9. That’s nearly 10 points higher than his career percentage of 64.3. If that percentage holds, or even if it drops two points, Rivers would break Drew Brees single season record of 71.2 percent completions. He is averaging 8.7 yards per pass attempt, a considerable improvement on his career average of 7.9

4. Wide receiver Eddie Royal, a Virginia Tech product who nearly signed with the Redskins in 2012, leads the Chargers in receiving touchdowns with six. But he only has one in San Diego’s last five games. He caught two in the season opener against the Texans and then three more the next week in Philadelphia. Then he went scoreless for four games before grabbing a 27-yard TD pass from Rivers against the Jaguars in his last game.

5. The Chargers don’t have anyone in particular who scares you on defense. They are tied with the Redskins for 20th in the NFL with 10 sacks but nobody has more than three. As noted, they don’t take the ball away much. But they do manage to keep teams out of the end zone as they are allowing 20.6 points per game, ninth best in the NFL.

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Stat of the day

—The Redskins have committed 15 turnovers this year through seven games. Last year in 16 games they committed only 14 turnovers.

Timeline

—Days until: Chargers @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Vikings 8; Redskins @ Eagles 18

—Today’s schedule: Player availability 11:15; Practice 1:00; Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan news conferences after practice (approx. 3:00; streamed live on CSNwashington.com)       

In case you missed it

Fletcher talks about a complete game

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Need to Know: Tandler’s Take—Dramatic improvement to Redskins rushing defense

Need to Know: Tandler’s Take—Dramatic improvement to Redskins rushing defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 16, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Talking Points

A better 3-2

For the third straight year, the Redskins are 3-2 after five games. As you know, they did not make the playoffs after either of the last two seasons. But they are in better shape in the standings now than they were in 2016 or 2017. Last year they were in second place in the division, a game and a half behind the 5-1 Eagles. They were worse off two years ago as they were in third place behind the 3-1 Eagles and the Cowboys, who were 4-1. 

It’s still very early, but it’s better to be in first place nearly a third of the way into the season than it is to be in second or third place and being in a position where you have to chase one or two teams. 

Take it away

The Redskins had three takeaways against the Panthers—the fumble recovery on the punt, Josh Norman’s interception, and the fumble forced by Norman and recovered by Mason Foster. They did not give the ball away. The last time they got at least three takeaways without giving the ball up was on Christmas Eve, 2016 in Chicago. Perhaps not coincidentally, that is the last game in which Norman had an interception until Sunday. 

After being either even or in the positive in takeaway ratio in four of their five games this year, the Redskins are now tied for fourth in the NFL with a plus-four turnover margin. If they can stay on the even or plus side from week to week they will have a very good chance at being successful. 

Rushing D much improved

After finishing 32nd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed in 2017, the Redskins are currently sixth, giving up an average of 90.2 yards per game. The improvement has come even though they have faced premiere running backs David Johnson, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, and Christian McCaffrey. They have allowed no more than 104 yards on the ground in any of their five games. Last year's opponents ran for 127 yards or more 10 times. Their defense will be tested on Sunday against the Cowboys, who average 147 rushing yards per game on the ground, second in the NFL. 

Looking in the mirror

When the Redskins take a look at the Cowboys they might feel like they are watching themselves. Both teams run the ball well, although Ezekiel Elliott is more consistent than Adrian Peterson. Alex Smith has better passing stats than Dak Prescott but both teams are in the bottom third of the league in passing yards. The defenses on both teams are strong. Washington is sixth in yardage allowed per game and the Cowboys are fifth. 

And both teams have started off the season alternating wins and losses. Dallas started with a loss to the Panthers then beat the Giants, lost to the Seahawks, won over the Lions, suffered an OT loss to the Texans and then thumped the Jaguars. It will be an interesting match up on Sunday.

The agenda

Today: Off day, no media availability

Upcoming: Cowboys @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Giants 12; Redskins @ Eagles 48

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Week 6's Redskins game marked another successful celebration of the THINK-PINK! campaign

Week 6's Redskins game marked another successful celebration of the THINK-PINK! campaign

During the Redskins-Panthers Week 6 matchup, the FedEx Field end zones ditched their usual gold trim for some pink instead. As it turns out, burgundy and pink go quite well together.

The reason for the change was to celebrate the Redskins Breast Cancer Awareness game as well as the 20th anniversary of Tanya Snyder's THINK-PINK! campaign.

Mrs. Snyder started the movement two decades ago by passing out 8,000 handmade pink ribbons at the team's stadium meant to remind people that early detection of breast cancer can make a major difference.

Now, her campaign has gone league-wide and is the reason you see so many players wearing pink in October, fans waving pink towels in the stands and other awareness-raising initiatives throughout the NFL.

"Very, very, very proud," Snyder said while handing out ribbons before the Washington-Carolina game. "We're not finished, but we are making a difference with early detection. So I'm beaming." 

For more information on Snyder and the NFL's breast cancer efforts, head to redskins.com/thinkpink. And for more details about the events held at FedEx Field during Week 6, check out the video above.

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