Saturday, October 9, 2010

Week 5 Preview: Packers vs Redskins

The Washington Redskins return to FedEx field this Sunday as they host the Green Bay Packers in a intraconference matchup. Both teams are coming off big divisional victories. The Redskins had a road victory last week at Philadelphia, and Green Bay escaped a close contest against the Detroit Lions.

The next two home games for the Redskins are against two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL; Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. For the Redskins to win tomorrow's game, they will have to continue establishing the run game.

Running back Ryan Torain will get the start this Sunday, and he will need to have a big game on the ground to control the clock and keep Rodgers off the field. That could be possible because the Packers are ranked 24th in run defense, so I expect Torain to get the bulk of the carries. Also, the offense needs to be consistent and productive for a full 60 minutes. Last week, the Redskins had 17 points in the 1st half, but none in the 2nd half. That will not work against a explosive Packers team.

The Redskins need to have a balanced attack, and let Donovan McNabb create some plays down the field. So far, their passing game is the best I've seen in 11 years, and McNabb has proven that he can put up big numbers. Also, the offensive line could face a big challenge as they face the Packers front seven led by linebackers A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews, who leads the league with seven sacks. The good news is that Trent Williams will back in the starting lineup, but the offensive line is very thin, and Matthews could create more problems for the run and pass protection.

Finally, this could be the game that rookie Brandon Banks has a breakout performance. The Packers have already given up a good amount of punt returns for touchdowns so far, and Banks could have enough firepower to change the momentum of the game. Sometimes in the NFL, games are won and lost on special teams. Hopefully, Banks can single-handily change the outcome of the game.

The defense will have another difficult task in defending Rodgers. The Redskins will have to create pressure on Rodgers, and make sure he isn't comfortable in the pocket. If Rodgers has enough protection, then he will no problem finding his receivers. The Redskins are last in the league in pass defense, so the secondary will face a major challenge in covering Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. But the Packers don't have a decent running back in the roster, so I expect the Packers to throw more often in this game, and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to continue using the deep zone cover two formation.

Prediction: This game could be a shootout in the making. I think both quarterbacks will probably throw close to 350 yards in this game. However, the Redskins ground attack, and special teams, will be the major difference. Torain will run for over 100 yards and two touchdowns, and Banks will have a punt return for a touchdown. McNabb will continue to spread the ball around with his receivers, and more importantly, they will control the time of possession by running the football, and keep Rodgers in the sidelines. This will lead to a impressive victory for the Redskins against a perennial Super Bowl contender.

Packers: 28,  Redskins: 31

Note: Skins Take sends our condolences to Albert Haynesworth and his family, who lost his brother in a fatal motorcycle accident last Thursday. Haynesworth will not play on Sunday as he attends his brother's funeral in Nashville Tennessee.

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