Saturday, November 24, 2007

Redskins, not Custer make last stand

Normally after ten weeks, at least one or two NFL teams emerge from the pack and start playing their best football. For four quarters last Sunday, it appeared the Washington Redskins might be one of those teams. Their superlative effort against the Dallas Cowboys fell short by less than a touchdown. Yet, just having a chance of beating the Cowboys in Texas Stadium speaks volumes about the gamesmanship of coach, Joe Gibbs; however, the Cowboys repeatedly took advantage of a hole in the Redskins secondary created by an injury to hard hitting safety, Sean Taylor. He missed the game due to a slight knee wound. This Sunday, Taylor is probable so there may be no such breach in the Skins defense, and that means problems for Washington's new opponent: Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers rolled past the Atlanta Falcons 31-7. Unlike the Redskins, the Bucs offense struggled until the defense turned an Atlanta fumble into a touchdown. After that, Tampa Bay's defense swarmed all over the hapless Falcons. This game is intriguing because it could be the Redskins last chance to stay in the wild card race. For the Buccaneers- a loss coupled with a win by New Orleans over Carolina- sets up a winner take all South division showdown next Sunday between Tampa and the Saints. The Bucs, nevertheless, are just a 3 1/2 point favorite against the Skins meaning this game is a toss up. Tampa Bay could be flying under the radar; consider, the running duo of B.J. Askew also Ernest Graham has been a pleasant surprise, but it underscores how poorly Gruden is evaluating his personnel. For example, how could Graham have languished on the bench this long in favor of Mike Alstott also Cadillac Williams. Graham, meanwhile, holds onto the ball like a loaf of bread, consequently it may be only a matter of time before he fumbles and returns to Gruden's doghouse. In this match up, I will go out on a limb by predicting a Buccaneers victory 24-21. If Tampa wins, they could become the surprise team in the NFC capable of making a deep run in the playoffs. In other games, the Patriots should cover the 24 point spread against Philadelphia. The Saints and Carolina are a toss up, but I look for the Saints to win. Finally, take the Packers and the points in Dallas.

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