Tha Sports Junkies 101

Washington Redskins Week 13 Preview: Skins head to the Desert

kerrigan in Arizona

The Washington Redskins look to return to their winning ways as they visit the Arizona Cardinals.

With five games remaining, the Washington Redskins have a legitimate chance to make franchise history, by making the playoffs within consecutive season’s for the first time in 25 years. Next up for the Redskins are the Arizona Cardinals. This season, has probably been the most disappointing in Cardinals history. Despite their struggles, the Cardinals are one of the more talented teams in the NFL.

Scouting the Cardinals Offense

On offense, it’s been the David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald show. Fitzgerald has been like a fine wine, just getting better with age. Through 11 games Larry Fitzgerald has 78 catches, 802 yards, and five touchdowns. Fitzgerald has experienced a renaissance within the late stages of his career. He’s on pace for 113 catches 1,167, and seven touchdowns. That would mark his second consecutive season with at least 1,000 yards after three straight seasons in which he failed to post 1,000 yards. (12′, 13′, 14′)

David Johnson is living proof that small school products can develop into elite NFL players. In his second season, Johnson has emerged as one of the most complete backs in the league. The former Northern Iowa product, is third in the NFL in rushing with 921 rushing yards. He also averages 4.4 yards per carry, and has ten rushing touchdowns. In 11 straight starts, Johnson has eclipsed at least 100 yards from scrimmage.

Johnson also has 55 catches, 613 yards, (leads all NFL running backs)  and three touchdowns. He’s also averaged 11.1 ypc. To put those numbers in perspective, Jordan Reed has 59 catches, 630 yards, and five touchdowns. Johnson’s ypc average is also better nearly one yard higher than Reed’s (10.6 ypc).

David Johnson is the key for the Cardinals on offense. If Arizona shows a true commitment to giving him the ball, he’ll be sure to make an impact on offense. Washington has struggled to stop the run so the Cards would be wise to invest a lot of their offensive gameplan into Johnson.

Scouting the Cardinals Defense

Arizona’s defense has been the most consistent unit on the team. The Cardinals lead the league in yards allowed (294.0) and yards per play. (4.7) The secondary for the Cardinals has been one of the more consistent units in the league. They rank second in passing allowing 195.1 yards.  Calais Campbell is a force up front and has the potential to give Ty Nsekhe and Shawn Lavaou fits. Outside linebacker, Chandler Jones leads Arizona with eight sacks in his first season with the team. Cornerback Patrick Peterson is pound for pound one of the best defensive backs in the NFL

The Cardinals defense however has its deficiencies. Like the Redskins offense, they have their struggles in the redzone, ranking 23rd in redzone scoring. Arizona also is ranked 11th in scoring defense. (20.1 ppg)

Three X-Factors for the Redskins

Carson Palmer has been one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the NFL, as Arizona ranks 30th allowing three sacks per game as well as 30th allowing 33 sacks on the season. The Redskins defense ranks t-6th with the Packers with 28 sacks. Washington desperately needs their pass rush to get home on Sunday. The Redskins defense struggles in a lot of major areas but they do rush the passer well. Preston Smith, Trent Murphy, and Ryan Kerrigan. Arizona has struggled in pass protection so Washington should be able to capitalize defensively.

In his second season, Jamison Crowder has emerged into the most productive players for the Redskins. No player NFL history who is 5′ 8″ or shorter has as many receiving yards through his first two seasons as Crowder. (1,329) Crowder leads Washington with 725 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Cardinals Tyrann Mathieu will be sorely missed as he would have likely drawn Crowder in coverage. Arizona will now turn to Tyvon Branch who’s making his first start of the season, as it’s his first week off of injured reserve.

Who wins and why

Earlier in the week, I predicted that the Redskins will finish the season undefeated. Kirk Cousins is playing exceptionally well and looks to carry the Skins’ down the stretch as he did in 2015. Robert Kelley and the running game is what will propel the Redskins offense. Although Cousins has excellent numbers, the offense needs balance because that’s when Cousins’ is most efficient. Cousins attempted 53 passes last week, and had an awesome stat line, but the Redskins lost. Jay Gruden and Sean McVay should opt to get Kelley some carries early to keep the offense ahead of the chains.

The Cardinals have the talent to beat Washington and are 2.5 point favorites despite Washington having a better record. Arizona returns most of their players from 2015, in which they finished 13-3 but they have been underachievers in 2016. Special teams for Arizona has been anything but special as they have costed the Cards several games this season.