The Washington Redskins kick off week 16 in the NFL with a 4:30pm kickoff against the Tennessee Titans (8-6) in Nashville. The Redskins (7-7) come off a victory in a hard fought, defensive game against the Jacksonville Jaguars 16-13, while the Titans come off of a 17-0 victory over the New York Giants. The Titans come into the game tied for the second wild card spot in the AFC while the Redskins are a half game out of the second wild card spot in the NFC. Needless to say both teams will be going all out to win this important game. Here are three keys that the Redskins must do to pull off the upset.
1. Stop Derrick Henry
This is easier said than done for the Redskins. Henry has rushed for 882 and 11 touchdowns on the season. Those stats are just average however, when you realize that 448 yards and 7 of those touchdowns have occurred in three games in December then you realize Henry is on the best run of his career. The Redskins defensive line, who controlled the game in Jacksonville, must have a similar performance. Linebackers Mason Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton will have to battle Henry all day long. If the Redskins can bottle up Henry, they give themselves a great chance to win the game.
2. Protect Josh Johnson
While quarterback Josh Johnson played exceptionally well last week, the Jaguar defense was able to pressure and hit him numerous times. The Titans defense is just as formidable as the Jags being ranked 12th against the run, 7th overall, and 6th against the pass. So protecting Josh Johnson will mean two things. First thing the offensive line has to keep him upright. They should be aided by the fact that former Redskin Brian Orakpo is out for the game. Secondly, Coach Jay Gruden has to call plays that move the pocket such as screens and bootlegs. If Johnson can have another zero turnover game the Redskins have a good chance of winning the game.
3. Limit/Create Big Plays
One of the key factors in the Redskins win over the Jags was the ability to limit big plays. Aided by the poor play of Cody Kessler, the Redskins held the Jags to 57 yards passing. The Titans have a better quarterback and receiving corps than the Jags do. Numerous times last week the secondary had great coverage but allowed Kessler to covert long third downs with his legs. The Redskins need to make Mariota throw from the pocket.Conversely, the Redskins need to create big plays on offense. A couple of long completions and field switching special teams plays can help the team. It is expected that the Titans will load up against Adrian Peterson and the running game so any plays to relive pressure against that would be helpful for the upset minded Redskins. Score Prediction: The run continues Redskins 17 Titans 13