Redskins-Falcons Preview

During the Redskins’ bye week, Curtis Lofton surpassed London Fletcher on the list of leading tacklers.  Lofton has 76, Fletcher 71.  Let’s hope that’s not a harbinger of what will happen in today’s game.  Lofton plays for the Falcons.

It’s tough to know how the Redskins will play today.  I say ‘how’ instead of ‘how well’ because I don’t know how they’ve modified their play calling, and which of their game trends this season will hold up today.  If I don’t know due to the bye week, it stands to reason the Falcons don’t know.  (Let’s hope the Skins know.)  Not knowing won’t keep me from getting out my crystal ball, or more accurately put, comparing the teams’ statistical traits to-date.

Washington runs the ball 24 times each game for an average gain of 3.9 yards.  Atlanta runs 28 times per game for an average gain of 4.0 yards.  Both Atlanta and Washington fumble the ball away less than once per game.  The Skins have ripped off runs of 20 or more yards 3 times.  The Falcons have done so twice as much.  The Falcons would have the advantage here, but Washington has a stingier defense.

Cover your kids’ eyes before you read this next stat.  Washington scores 13.7 points-per-game.  Atlanta scores 24.4 points per game.  Let’s move on.

Washington’s defense gives up 283 yards-per-game, whereas Atlanta’s defense gives up 329.  The Redskins average about 2.4 sacks per game – the Falcons 2.  The Redskins have intercepted 3 pasases – the Falcons 6.  The Redskins allow opposing quarterbacks to complete 59% of their passes – the Falcons 62%.  On paper there’s a slight advantage to Washington.  Knowing how stout their defense is when they’re on their game, I would bet on the Skins’ defense over the Falcons’.  If the Redskins don’t perform better on offense, however, the defensive stats won’t matter.

Penalties won’t be a differentiator in this game.  Interceptions might.  Oddly, the Skins have proven that they can control the ball and still not score.  In fact, time of possession is an outright worthless statistic when it comes to the Skins.  Either they make it a factor (score touchdowns after long drives) or they’ll need to hit big plays.  Do neither and they don’t have a chance.  A little of both would be nice.

I think this game will be close.  I have no idea what the run/pass ratio will be, and am not sure it matters nearly as much as sacks, turnovers, and yards after the catch.  I suspect both teams will air it out.  It could be exciting.  And that’s my prediction – an exciting pass-oriented game in which the team which protects the ball wins.  I won’t be surprised at all if the total points scored is north of 50.  I may be the only one who thinks that. Go Skins!

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