Redskins at Chargers: Keys to the Game

What both teams have to do to get a win in Carson

The Chargers have not beaten a team with a winning record and they’re tied for 1st place in the AFC West. The Redskins have beaten the Rams and the Seahawks ON THE ROAD and are sitting in 11th place in the NFC playoff picture.

The NFL is extremely hard to figure out these days.

These teams meet in Carson on Sunday in a game with all kinds of post-season implications. Fernando Ramirez looks at what the Chargers have to do to win while Derek Togerson examines the Redskins keys to victory:

Chargers Key #1: Score TD not FG

Last week against the Cleveland Browns the Chargers settled for five fields goals, one was missed, and only scored one touchdown. That can’t happen on Sunday versus the Washington Redskins. The Chargers need to use both their aerial and run game attack frequently, but also mixing up the way they have during their three-game win streak. The Bolts have plenty of weapons for quarterback Philip Rivers to spread the ball around to when they reach the end zone. Chargers offensive coordinator, Ken Wisenhunt, said this week that the team focused on red zone offense because of the points they left on the field last week, but if they have any chance to win they will need their offense to get back to their scoring ways.

Redskins Key #1: Give Cousins Time

We all know how good the Chargers pass rush is. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram have been killing QBs and now that defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has faith in rookie defensive back Desmond King on a blitz he’s bringing pressure from all kinds of places. Cousins has been tremendous when given a chance to get the ball off, which is amazing because he doesn’t have a great stable of receivers to work with. Just give Kirk a chance to find something to keep moving the ball downfield and extend drives and he’ll give you a chance to win.

Chargers Key #2: Protect Philip Rivers and the Ball

The Chargers offensive line has been the factor that has not been really mentioned during the season. They have only allowed a league low 13 sacks on their quarterback. The O-line is still improving when it comes to running the ball, but when it comes to pass protection they are the best in the league, on paper. The Redskins have an absolute monster on their defense named Ryan Kerrigan and he will cause havoc all game long. This season Kerrigan has sacked the opposing quarterback nine times and has forced two fumbles. The Chargers line has to make sure they are paying attention to him and not letting him go crazy. The Chargers have also been very good at taking care of the football since the bye week and Rivers has only thrown one interception since then. The Bolts need to keep taking care of the football and of their quarterback if they hope to continue the winning streak.

Redskins Key #2: Don’t Be Idiots

During their recent winning stretch the Chargers remarkably have not been penalized very often but when they have the flags have come at very bad times (Bosa seems to have a particular penchant for ill-timed infractions). That will likely continue against Washington so the Redskins need to not only take advantage when they’re handed another chance, they need to make sure they make fewer mistakes the Bolts do. Too many bad penalties or, even worse, turnovers will make it very difficult to win.

Chargers Key #3: Keep Getting After it on Defense

The Chargers defense has been on a tear all year whether it is by rushing the passer or defending against the pass. The pass-rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram has been working well and because of how fast they are in the backfield quarterbacks have to get rid of the ball quicker than they would like and that is causing turnovers. Speaking of turnovers cornerback Casey Hayward and safety Tre Boston have a combined eight interceptions (four each) this season. The defense does have an Achilles heel and that has been stopping the run.  The team has actually been stopping the run better as of late and that is because of the return of their signal caller Denzel Perryman. The Redskins have a good rookie running back in Samaje Perine and unless the Chargers can stop up early he will run wild on them. The defense can’t allow Kirk Cousins and the running game to take off because once it gets going it won’t be easy to stop.

Redskins Key #3: Take Some Chances

One more loss very likely knocks Washington out of playoff contention. This is the time where you need to throw caution to the wind. Head coach Jay Gruden might want to open up the playbook to pages that have not been cracked in a while on both offense and defense to try and make something good happen. Blitz everybody. Double reverse flee-flickers. Whatever it takes, Washington needs to take control of the game and keep the Chargers on their heels and a few surprises that work should be able to do that.

Fernando’s Prediction: Chargers 31 Redskins 20. Philip Rivers will terminate the Redskins and move closer to the AFC West showdown with the Chiefs next Saturday.

Derek’s Prediction: Redskins 22, Chargers 20. In addition to Rams and Seahawks wins, Washington nearly beat the Saints in New Orleans. Last week’s stinker in Dallas is an aberration for this team that is very good away from Landover.

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