The Redskins had been worthless in the Mike Shanahan era. They were 11-22 coming into this season and Shanahan’s days looked to be numbered unless he managed to change the team’s direction quickly. He did that with the bold move to acquire the #2 overall pick for quite a ransom and used the pick to draft Robert Griffin III. The future of the organization changed immediately.
RG3 has taken the Redskins from irrelevance to playoff contention. Not only is he dynamic as the team’s main playmaker, but he’s also smart enough to manage a complex offense and limit the team’s turnovers. He has a passer rating of 104.2 so far this season, which is unheard of from a rookie (Andrew Luck is at 74.5), and he’s completing 66.4 percent of his passes. He has shown he’s a franchise quarterback in all definitions of the word.
The key word there is “franchise.” His career will impact the franchise for years to come as long as he’s healthy. A doctor stated this week that RG3 risks further injury if he plays before his knee is healed. There’s no reason the Redskins should risk RG3’s future health to play him this week. This is just one season and he has his whole future ahead of him. Although his game is prone to injury since he scrambles so much, he’ll find a way to protect himself better in time. The likelihood of him aggravating his injury is strong because his natural instincts will have him doing things he can’t physically do. That’s when he’ll get caught from behind and his long-term future will be called into question.
This isn’t like Stephen Strasburg who wasn’t injured when his team was babying him. This is a situation where a quarterback that relies on his legs, is nursing a knee injury that can worsen. The Redskins haven’t tasted the playoffs since 2007, so there’s desperation from the fan base and the organization. Hopefully common sense wins out. The league is better off with the guarantee of RG3 in the future than any short-term benefit with the associated risk.
Locks of the Week:
Pittsburgh -1.5 over DALLAS
The Cowboys are feeling good after last week’s win in Cincinnati, which gave them four wins in five games. They’ve put themselves into a great situation to contend for a division title or a wild-card berth despite starting 3-5. Just when they give their fans hope is when they break their hearts. The Steelers aren’t as bad as they played in last week’s turnover fest and they’ll bounce back against a Cowboys defense dealing with a banged-up Jay Ratliff and missing their two inside linebackers.
Indianapolis +8.5 over HOUSTON
The Texans’ pass defense has been exposed the last four weeks to the tune of 356 yards a game. Sure, they just faced Tom Brady, but Brady actually managed the least amount of passing yards of any quarterback in those four games. Houston’s defense hasn’t been as fierce as since the loss of Brian Cushing. They’ll be able to run the ball well against Indianapolis’ front seven, but they won’t be able to defend well enough to make the margin more than a touchdown.
Detroit -6.5 over ARIZONA
This game looks a little too simple, which is kind of scary. Arizona’s quarterback Ryan Lindley has continually proven that he’s not capable of leading his team to points. There’s no reason to think this game should go any differently than when the Rams beat Arizona by 14 points three weeks ago. I also don’t like the fact that Patrick Peterson is saying he wants a piece of Calvin Johnson in one-on-one coverage. He’ll live to regret that decision.
Trap Game of the Week:
BALTIMORE +2.5 over Denver
Denver’s best win this year is against Cincinnati or a struggling Pittsburgh team depending on who you like better. It’s been a while since they’ve faced an elite team, but they have losses against Atlanta, Houston, and New England to show for those engagements. The public is all over Peyton Manning, but the Ravens have been a great home team this year with five wins and only a loss against division rival Pittsburgh. Denver’s been humming in recent weeks and I’d probably like them on a neutral field, but the change of offensive coordinator for Baltimore should give them the boost needed.
Rest of the Picks:
N.Y. Giants +1.5 over ATLANTA
The Giants have no room for error as Washington and Dallas continue to win behind them. That’s great for their chances this weekend against a Falcons team they know they can crush. Atlanta’s only two losses this year have come in road games, but they have to be feeling nervous given how they looked against Carolina last week and how the Giants beat them down in the playoffs last year.
NEW ORLEANS -3.5 over Tampa Bay
I’m not sure if Josh Freeman is nursing an injury or something, but he’s failed to complete 55 percent of his passes in three of the last four games.
Washington +2.5 over CLEVELAND
After being competitive in most of their early-season games, the Browns have turned the corner to win three straight games. The leading force has been their defense, which ranks 10th in points allowed and has forced 26 takeaways. A closer look at the stats shows that the Browns’ defense is actually not in the top half in the league in both rushing and passing yards allowed, which means they’re using turnovers to make things happen. Which team in the NFL has the second fewest turnovers? The Washington Redskins. But if RG3 doesn’t play, then this flips over to Cleveland.
ST. LOUIS -3.5 over Minnesota
The Rams have been decent against the run this year, but they’ll be tested by Adrian Peterson this weekend. The public is leaning heavily towards Minnesota in this game, but I like the way the Rams have played this year. They’ve won their last three games and things may have not been pretty, but they’ve been effective.
CHICAGO +3.5 over Green Bay
The Packers have been winning this year despite not having a running game or an offensive line that can protect the passer. Chicago’s defense should be able to contain the Green Bay’s passing game through a heavy pass rush and the cover-2 defense. Green Bay’s defense is very mid-tier, even with Clay Matthews returning this week, so Chicago should be able to move the ball enough to keep this within a field goal.
Jacksonville +7.5 over Miami
Miami’s chance of blowing out anyone at home is unlikely. It only happened once this year and that was against a Raiders team coming east to play an early game. Jacksonville’s offense should be prolific enough to cover the touchdown with Cecil Shorts coming back for the Jaguars this weekend.
BUFFALO +4.5 over Seattle
The Seahawks have only won two road games this year and the only one that was by a margin higher than this spread was one that ended on an overtime touchdown on the first possession. Buffalo’s defense has improved dramatically in recent weeks having given up an average of less than 17 points in each of their last four games. Expect this one to hit the under.
SAN DIEGO -3.5 over Carolina
Straight from yesterday’s survivor pick section: “San Diego might be feeling motivated after it was announced that their coach and GM are going to be fired at the end of the season. A lot of players probably feel like they're playing for their jobs. Carolina might come into town feeling a little too good after their win over Atlanta last week, which gives San Diego a favorable chance to beat them.”
OAKLAND -3.5 over Kansas City
And part two of yesterday’s survivor pick section: “The Raiders have had a few extra days to prepare and get healthy since they played last Thursday night. Kansas City's only win since Week 3 was when they were extraordinarily motivated following the death of Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend. Oakland's main defensive weakness is their secondary and the Chiefs certainly aren't the team to expose that, especially with Dwayne Bowe out with a rib injury. The Raiders haven't faced a team this bad at home in some time, so they should feel the urge to go after the win.”
NEW ENGLAND -6.5 over San Francisco
The Patriots are firing on all cylinders these days. If you’re looking to take the 49ers this week, know that Tom Brady started studying film of them in the days after Thanksgiving. He wanted to put in the work because he knew he’d have a short week after playing on Monday night. Those cylinders will continue to fire. Hopefully Brady has a sweatshirt for the 49ers as cool as the one Frank Gore wore after beating the Dolphins last week.
N.Y. Jets +1.5 over TENNESSEE
Because the Jets are going to make the AFC Wild Card race very interesting just so this Mark Sanchez situation never dies. (Side note: the Jets should’ve never gotten rid of Braylon Edwards. He and Sanchez had a nice rapport and now he’s back.)
This Week: 1-0
Last Week: 10-6