Saturday, October 6, 2007

Redskins vs. Lions


What they want to do:

On offense Washington will want to play ball possession football using the Clinton Portis-Ladell Betts tandem that has accounted for 309 yards and three touchdowns through the team's first few games. Being able to control the ball, and the clock, effectively will keep Detroit's horrid defense (382 yards per game - 28th in the league) on the field, keep their top-ranked passing game (313 yards per game) on the sidelines, while simultaneously taking pressure of of second-year quarterback Jason Campbell.

Defensively, the Redskins need to put pressure on Lion’s quarterback Jon Kitna. Kitna has played well in the Detroit's pass-happy offense so far this year, throwing for eight touchdowns and 1,227 yards through the team's first four games. However he has also thrown four interceptions, been sacked nineteen times and fumbled five times – three of which have been lost. The sack numbers indicate defenses have been able to get to Kitna and his gunslinger mentality means he will make bad passes when pressured. If the Redskins can force turnovers from Kitna (who has personally turned it over seven times already this year) they have a better chance of stymieing Detroit's offense and picking up the win.

How to beat them:

The Lions will want to turn this game into a shootout, it’s where they’ve been most comfortable this season; additionally, the Redskins quarterback, Jason Campbell, has been solid but at this point really isn't the type of guy you'd want passing the ball forty times trying to lead your team to a 41-38 victory. A shootout is even more appealing this week as one of Washington's best deep threats, Santana Moss, suffered a strained groin muscle in Week 3 and is unlikely to play Sunday (and would be seriously limited if he does).

Key Matchup: Washington’s Offensive Line vs. Detroit’s Front Four
Injuries to starter’s Randy Thomas (RG) and Jon Jansen (RT) have left the right side of the Redskins line severely decimated and although the Lions total defense is poor, the team is fourth in the league in sacks. For the Redskins to effectively control the ball and keep the pressure off of Campbell, the patchwork right side of the line is going to have to hold throughout the game.


Antwaan Randle El
On of the most athletic players in the NFL, Randel El is a big-play threat receiving, rushing and returning punts punts and can even throw pretty well if the Redskins want to throw in a trick play. A big play from Randle El could change the course of the game, both on the scoreboard and momentum-wise. The odds that Randle El will be able to make a game-breaking play increase dramatically if the Redskins can effectively control the ball and wear out the Lions defense.

Ladell Betts

While Portis is running as well as ever (4.7 YPC), Betts has thus far been unable to replicate last seasons success, rushing for only 2.7 yards per carry. The Redskins will be looking to run the ball and control the clock all game and to do it as effectively as they want to they'll need both their running backs to have solid days.


What they want to do:

Pass, pass, pass. The Lion’s are currently leading the league in passing yardage, throwing the ball over forty times a game, starter Jon Kitna has completed better than 71% of his passes and as a result the Lions are sitting on a 3-1 record and the fourth most points in the NFL. The past success, added to Kitna's gunslinger attitude and the immense talent the team posses at wide receiver means the Lions will be looking to pass all day yet again. The Redskins corners (Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers and Fred Smoot) are all solid and the corps has good depth, however none is the kind of shutdown corner you'd like to have against a passing offense as potent as Detroit's. For Kitna this means there are no matchups to exploit per se and no defenders to avoid. Thus as long as Kitna can take what the defense gives him and avoiding getting tunnel vision on any particular one of his receivers the offense should be efficient enough to move down the field.

Defensively, the Lions will have to bend but not break – at least not too often. Based on the Redskins personnel it would be logical to try and make second year quarterback Jason Campbell throw as much as possible and not let the Redskins run the ball with Portis and Betts. However in the Lions case their pass defense has been terrible (30th in the league) whereas their run defense has been mediocre (17th in the NFL). The Lions will give up points, make no mistake about it – they're average thirty points against thus far in the season and have give up thirty-six or more in all but one of their games. And don't try to blame it on tough opposition – the teams racking up points against the Lions were Philadelphia (56), Chicago (37) and Oakland (36). The key for the Lions on defense is going to be to make a crucial stand or two and avoid giving up the big play.

How to beat them: Antwaan Randle El vs. Fernando Bryant and Stanley Wilson.

With Santana Moss hurt and unlikely to play Randle El becomes Washington’s only reliable deep threat. If the Lion's corners can contain him in the deep game the field is going to get a lot smaller and Washington is going to have a hard time picking up first downs and keeping control of the ball.

Wildcard: Calvin Johnson

The Georgia Tech rookie is the most naturally gifted of a very talented Lion’s receiving corps and may already be the best receiver on the team. If Johnson's back feels well enough to let him play on Sunday it will change the whole dynamic of the game.

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