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2013 - Week 8 vs San Diego Chargers

Blognosticator - Beauty is Only

Great Expectations

When I offered to produce one of these pieces a few months ago, I fully expected that I would be writing this in a state of euphoria induced by the winning ways of those braves on the warpath hailing from the District of Columbia. I assumed, perhaps, a loss or two coming into Week 9 most likely at the hands of Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning. The 'Skins would be 2-0 (maybe 1-1), I thought, within the division and setting their sights on another NFC East title. Could a long-awaited Super Bowl appearance be an unrealistic prospect for the Burgundy and Gold?

My expectations, as the informed reader well knows, were far from accurate. The new NFL season unveiled a rusty Robert Griffin III and a Washington defense that seemed unable to grasp (pun intended) the fundamentals of bringing an opposing ball carrier to the turf. If one were judging by the first few games, it would appear that D.C. sports fans might want to turn their attention to the Capitals or Wizards. The 'Skins seemed bewildered and out of sync. Perhaps coach Mike Shanahan’s fifth year in D.C. would offer more promise.

The last few weeks, however, have offered more to cheer about for the Redskins. The awakened offense scored 38 against the Bears. The defense, though ultimately succumbing to the will of the prolific Broncos offense, took the team into the fourth quarter with a lead.

Another reason for optimism is the simultaneous mediocrity of Washington’s division mates. Even with 5 losses, the 'Skins are only a game back in the loss column of the current division leader, the 4-4 Cowboys. This season is not over and the Redskins seem to be moving towards Mike Shanahan’s goal of a complete game.

Following My Heart

My wishful thinking concludes that this is the week when the rust gets shaken off completely. The offense clicks as Kyle Shanahan learns/remembers that rushing the ball is the spring from which offensive success flows. The defense returns to its first-three-quarters-in-Denver form and produces multiple turnovers and sacks and yields few points. The special teams are not necessarily special but are at least above average and cancel out San Diego’s special teams’ efforts.

My heart’s conclusion is that the Redskins finally put it all together and overwhelm San Diego with a 38-17 result.

My Head Says…

I’m not a football nerd, but a quick glance at the stat sheet shows the Chargers with slight advantages in passing/receiving and total yards. The Redskins, however, have advantages in rushing and scoring (if only by .7 points).

Chargers QB Phillip Rivers’ quarterback rating is nearly 32 points better than Robert Griffin III’s. Consider, though, that Griffin’s rating includes those first several games where he essentially worked through his own personal pre-season while readjusting to live-game speed and situations and the feel of his “new” knee. He has been showing marked improvement over the past few weeks though some of his decisions are still questionable. His worst game came last week against Denver, though one could argue that this was a result of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s decision to eschew the run in favor of an aerial attack later in the game. Since the offensive line did a woeful job of pass protection, Griffin’s numbers suffered.

San Diego’s defense has given up 378 yards per game while Washington’s has surrendered 396. The Chargers have held opponents to just over 20 points per game besting the Redskins by nearly 13 points (the Redskins have given up 32.7 points per game).

As previously mentioned, Washington’s defense looked very good in the first three quarters against Denver. There were three interceptions (two by the oft-maligned DeAngelo Hall, one of which was a pick-six) and a forced fumble by Ryan Kerrigan. These gaudy stats came against the top-rated Denver offense. Granted, the Redskins’ poor defensive showing in the fourth quarter against Denver contributed to that top ranking.
Using cold, unfeeling statistics, the Chargers should win this game. Under the influence of this shallowly-researched and lightly-analyzed raw data, I predict a 31-24 Chargers victory.

All Things Considered

Since my emotions and intellect are not in agreement, I’m duty bound to consider and factor in other truths to arrive at a tie-breaking conclusion. Those truths are:

  • The Chargers must cross over two time zones and “lose” two hours to play this game. It’s always better, they say, to travel west than to travel east when it comes to jet lag.
  • The Redskins hold a 6-3 all time advantage over the Chargers in head-to-head competition. Four of the Redskins six wins have been on their home field.
  • The weather forecast for D.C. predicts a roughly 10 degree cooler temperature on Sunday than San Diego’s current weather pattern.

Putting hope, stats and miscellaneous, possibly negligible other facts together, my conclusion is that the Redskins will begin defense of their NFC East crown in earnest on Sunday. RGIII will play with urgency and precision and, with the help of run-heavy play calling, will use the read option to frustrate San Diego’s defense. Washington’s own defense will keep the Chargers at bay. With Washington’s offense scoring frequently, San Diego will be forced to move from their normally slow and deliberate offense to a more pass-oriented attack, and Orakpo and Kerrigan will rattle Rivers, perhaps forcing some quickly-thrown passes into the hands of DeAngelo Hall and the other members of Washington’s secondary.

Final Prediction: Redskins 28, Chargers 20

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