After a tough loss to the Cleveland Browns, Washington returns home and faces the defending AFC North Champions Baltimore Ravens and reigning MVP QB Lamar Jackson. The Ravens are coming off a bad performance on Monday Night Football against the Super Bowl Champions Kansas City Chiefs. In that game, the Chiefs built a lead and the Ravens were unable to come back. Their running based offense was neutralized by the score. Meanwhile Washington lost a winnable game to the Browns by turning the ball over five times and poor tackling. This could be a recipe for disaster for Washington as the line for the game is Ravens by 14 points. Here are my three keys for Washington to secure the upset.
1. Take care of the ball.
In the victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington had zero turnovers and they won the game. In the last two games after, Washington has had 7 turnovers ( 4 interceptions, 3 fumbles) while only forcing one interception on defense. This will not win football games at any level, especially in the NFL. If Washington can take care of the ball and win the time of possession, they have a good chance in this game. The majority of this falls on Dwayne Haskins, take care of the ball and put your team in position to succeed.
2. Make the tackle.
All season there has been one glaring issue with the Washington defense, tackling. In the Philadelphia Eagles game this didn’t matter as the defensive line took over but in the two losses this has become apparent. A lot of the fan base has had trepidation and ire towards free safety Troy Apke who has been shaky, however the bigger concern and the biggest culprit has been other strong safety, Landon Collins. Collins as the in the box has the be a sure tackler and hasn’t been performing well. Also in coverage Collins has had some mental mistakes that have led to touchdowns. As the highest paid player on the defense, Collins has to step up on the back end to help this team. The entire defense needs to tackle well especially against the shifty Lamar Jackson.
3. Play better Dwayne.
The struggles of Dwayne Haskins have been well documented. In the last two weeks he has been hesitant at times, throwing into coverage at others. What Coach Rivera wants to see is consistent play and improvement from Haskins. Up and down play is expected but the franchise quarterbacks make plays. This will only be Haskins’ 11th start, on his third head coach and offense. However in the NFL players are expected to produce regardless of circumstances. Scott Turner has been calling good games and that will need to continue against a really good Ravens defense. Dwayne possesses the talent to be a good quarterback and now he needs to show it, no matter the outcome of the game.
Last week I choose Washington to win and if the game was three quarters I would have been correct. However the fourth quarter did occur and Cleveland won 34-20. Baltimore is Super Bowl contender coming off a bad loss. I see Washington making this competitive but the losses of Chase Young and Matt Ioannidis will be too much and Baltimore will take control of this game. Baltimore 34, Washington 20