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coleryan
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Washington Redskins at Denver Broncos: Preview and Pick

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On 10/22/2013 06:05 PM in NFL
Washington Redskins at Denver Broncos: Preview and Pick

The Denver Broncos are considered my most experts to be one of the best teams in the National Football League, but after a Sunday Night Football loss to the Indianapolis Colts, many are rethinking that decision. The Washington Redskins were supposed to be a team that was getting ready to take their game play to the next level, but up to this point they have struggled and are going to have a huge challenge this weekend against Peyton Manning.

Washington Redskins at Denver Broncos Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game has the Broncos listed as double digit favorites. As expected, the early football bettors are expecting the broncos to rebound from the loss as over 70 percent of the money is coming in on Denver. This has caused a line shift and the line has moved form (-12) to (-13) at many of the top rated online sportsbooks.

The answer to defeating the Broncos may have been discovered in the game against the Colts. Peyton Manning struggled when the Colts sent five or more pass rushers, completing 2-of-8 passes against such pressure. Coming into the game, Manning led the NFL in most categories when facing additional pressure. - The Colts sacked or put Peyton Manning under duress on 17 of his 53 dropbacks (32.1%). It is the most times he has been under such pressure in a game since 2009. The secret to the Redskins success is in running the rock.

The Redskins rushed for 209 yards Sunday, including a season-high 79 yards on zone-read plays. Robert Griffin III had 70 of the Redskins' 79 yards on zone-read plays, and attempted as many zone-read rushes against the Bears as in the Redskins' first five games this season. If they can do that again they may be able to beat the Broncos.

The latest football betting trends for this game indicate that the Redskins may actually have a chance in this game. The Broncos are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games after scoring more than 30 points in their previous game, 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating more than 250 yards passing in their previous game and 3-11 ATS in their last 14 games in October. The Redskins are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game, -0 ATS in their last 6 games after scoring more than 30 points in their previous game and 7 -3 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up win.

Washington Redskins at Denver Broncos Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
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10/23/2013 01:47 PM

In Week 7, Washington finally established its identity for the season. It’s a strange identity, of course, but we’d expect nothing less from a 2-4 team that scarcely resembles the one that started the season. At least now we know what we’re in for the rest of the way.

Alfred Morris will run the ball, over and over. Roy Helu Jr. will come in for the touchdowns, then take off his helmet so we can see that hair. (Forget Troy Polamalu. This guy has great hair. And he wears what looked to be a barrette! I love this guy.) Jordan Reed will catch the ball. And catch it again. And get hurt, and catch it again. Robert Griffin III will run and throw the ball. And those four will have to keep doing that till the cows come home because offense is what this team has, and lots of it.

Redskins won when they had to, but struggles on defense and special teams temper optimism about future.

Defensive end Stephen Bowen tore a ligament in his right knee but he might be able to continue playing.

Griffin finally shook off the last of the rust, dust, jitters, whatever, and played entirely like a quarterback without a brace on his knee and two major surgeries in his rearview mirror. He was almost there last week, and Sunday he was vintage Griffin — if a second-year player can be vintage. He rushed for 84 yards and threw for 298. He’s still throwing into coverage a little too often, but that was a solid effort.

Morris was carrying defenders on his back like the old days. Helu had 41 flashy yards, and Morris ground out his 95. Morris gets those little one-yard gains and not a few one-yard losses. He takes more punishment than anyone, then bounces up and tosses the ball to the official. He and Helu are a wicked tandem if used properly. And Reed has replaced Pierre Garcon as Griffin’s go-to guy. Give the team credit for yet another rookie with a bright future.

Of course, it must be said that all of this offense happened against a depleted Bears defense. Already missing some key players, they lost linebacker Lance Briggs and fell apart. The offense should have had a field day under those conditions.

But the Bears also lost starting quarterback Jay Cutler to what I can’t resist describing as “just another groin injury.” That should have been a gift to the struggling Washington defense: a backup quarterback who hadn’t taken a regular season snap in two seasons. Release the Kraken!

The Kraken, however, turned out to be Josh McCown, who completed 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards, threw a touchdown and no interceptions, and ended with a quarterback rating of 119.6 — 14 points higher than Griffin’s. He also rushed for 33 yards. He never gets reps in practice, and he hadn’t played in an NFL game in two years. Either he’s the Bears’ new starter or Washington’s defense is a hot mess.

Said defense gave up 41 points after giving up 31 in Dallas. Well, to pick nits, in Sunday’s game, special teams gave up a touchdown and Charles Tillman’s interception gave the Bears a first and goal from the 10, the equivalent of a gimme putt. Chicago was going to score; it was just a matter of 3 or 7. The defense was able to slow the Bears’ running game but they couldn’t keep them out of the end zone. That helped lead to the craziness of eight lead changes and seven ties.

What else helped? Special teams, which continues to belie its name. Devin Hester ran right back to 2007 with an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown. Hester used to be the master of the touchdown return, but he hadn’t done it in 29 games.

And speaking of special teams — and I never thought I would write this sentence — Mike Shanahan needs to bring back journeyman place kicker John Potter. It’s an extravagance to carry two place kickers, but Kai Forbath’s kickoffs aren’t getting the job done. He had eight Sunday, and only one was a touchback. (Chicago’s Robbie Gould, by comparison, had five touchbacks.) The Bears amassed105 yards on Forbath’s kicks of 52, 72, 46, 44, 61, 42 and 48 yards. That’s also a coverage problem, but the biggest problem is giving the opposition good field position when the defense is still a little . . . porous.

The beat-up Bears were just what Washington needed to get a second win and a little confidence going into Denver on Sunday. But if Chicago can match Washington point for point, imagine what the Broncos can do.
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10/23/2013 01:47 PM
From Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe to Desmond Clark to Dwayne Carswell to Jeb Putzier to Tony Scheffler to Daniel Graham, the tight end always had a prominent role in the Denver Broncos’ offense during Mike Shanahan’s 14-year tenure as the team’s head coach.

And when Shanahan brings the Washington Redskins to Denver this weekend he will bring an emerging player at the position in rookie Jordan Reed. Reed was taken in the third round -- 85th overall -- this past April because Shanahan saw the potential of an impact pass catcher.

Some personnel folks in the league believed Reed may have a difficult time transitioning into a full slate of work as an NFL tight end, at least initially at 6-foot-2 1/2 and 236 pounds at the scouting combine last February. Shanahan said when the Redskins looked at Reed before the draft they “felt we had a guy that was very special catching the football, very special in and out of breaks, more like a wide receiver than a tight end’’ and that the question was whether or not Reed would be able to hold up in a blocking role.

But when the Redskins put him in the offense they then believed they had a player who could function as a blocker. Jordan is just 23, having left Florida after his junior season.

He has become a bigger part of the Redskins offense as the weeks have gone by, with this past Sunday’s effort against the Bears being his breakout: nine catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos have had their issues at times this season with opposing tight ends, something that carried over from last season.

Linebacker Wesley Woodyard's neck injury, which has has kept him out of the past two games, hasn’t helped matters. Because of Reed’s athleticism the Broncos will have to consider matching a safety on him. Reed’s routes aren’t that of a big man. He is sharp in and out of his cuts and his footwork along the boundary is that of a wideout.

Reed, who arrived to Florida as a quarterback and who rushed for five touchdowns and threw for three more as a freshman, has a good feel for where the soft spots are in zone coverages.

In seven games opposing tight ends have 43 catches against the Broncos for 568 yards -- that’s 13.2 yards per catch -- led by Jason Witten's 121 yards on seven catches in Dallas. The Broncos have limited the group to two touchdowns, one by Witten and one by the Colts’ Coby Fleener this past Sunday, but Reed will certainly be on the radar this week.
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10/23/2013 01:48 PM
Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey is not expected to be available for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins after he reinjured his left foot late in the first half in Denver's loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Bailey left Sunday's game with 4 minutes, 36 seconds remaining in the first half after planting awkwardly on his left foot. The Broncos returned to Denver in the early-morning hours Monday and Bailey was sent for several exams, including an MRI, later Monday morning.

The Broncos are hopeful the bye week that follows the Redskins game will get Bailey closer to returning to the lineup. He has played just under six quarters worth of football for the team in seven games.

"He had a barrage of testing, and it looks like he's going to be in week-to-week type of mode,'' Broncos coach John Fox said Monday afternoon. "... Obviously, the bye is after the Washington game, so right now I would say the best way to describe it is week-to-week.''

When Fox describes a player as week-to-week, he usually misses significant time.

Bailey suffered the injury doing what he has done better than most at his position through the years -- defending the run. Bailey tried to take on a block from Colts fullback Stanley Havili, who was the lead blocker for Trent Richardson on a first-and-10 play from the Colts' 43-yard line.

Bailey initially made contact with Havili and then tried to re-engage with Havili and appeared to step awkwardly on his left foot. He immediately limped away, and then took his helmet off and slammed it to the ground several times.

The Broncos used rookie Kayvon Webster, Chris Harris and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as their top three cornerbacks after Bailey left the game. Webster had actually seen more snaps than Rodgers-Cromartie before Bailey's injury.

That is the expected lineup against the Redskins
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10/24/2013 03:25 PM
Peyton Manning's homecoming last week ended in sour fashion.

Now, he and the Denver Broncos will try to bounce back and spoil coach Mike Shanahan's return to Denver.

The Broncos seek their 11th straight regular-season home victory Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

Manning's return to Indianapolis resulted in a 39-33 loss to his former team, snapping a franchise-record string of 17 consecutive regular-season wins for Denver (6-1). He was 29 of 49 for 386 yards, three TDs and an interception, but was also sacked four times and hit 10.

He didn't practice Wednesday due to a sore ankle, but is expected to play. Neither Manning nor coach John Fox discussed the details of the injury.

Shanahan coached Denver for 14 seasons, amassing a 138-86 regular-season record and leading the franchise to its only two Super Bowl championships. However, he posted a 1-4 playoff record in 10 seasons following back-to-back titles.

"I am looking forward to going back to Denver," said Shanahan, who also served as a Broncos offensive assistant for seven years over two different stints before becoming head coach. He was Denver's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for a 42-10 loss to Washington in Super Bowl XXII.

"It's been home for me. A lot of great friends still there. It's just something you look forward to."

Sunday figures to be a high-scoring game with Washington (2-4) trying to slow down a Denver squad whose 298 points are the most in league history through its first seven games.

The Broncos' 469.3 yards per game leads the NFL, while Manning ranks first in passing TDs (25), yards (2,565) and QB rating (123.3). Knowshon Moreno's eight rushing scores also lead all players.

Though Denver's offense likely won't face the pressure it did against Indianapolis - Washington has 18 sacks - it will be focused on providing better protection for Manning, who had only been sacked five times in the previous six games. One sack Sunday by Robert Mathis led to a fumble and a safety.

Fox attributed some of the offensive line's struggles to circumstance since the Broncos trailed 33-14 in the third quarter.

"I think when you get into a chuck-and-duck kind of game when you're one dimensional, especially on the road with the crowd noise and against maybe the best pass rusher in football, it doesn't go real well when you're down 19 points or 16 points," Fox said.

The Redskins come off a 45-41 victory over Chicago, their most points since a 52-17 victory over San Francisco on Oct. 23, 2005. The 499 yards were also their most since amassing 511 in a 26-20 win against the 49ers on Dec. 26, 1999.

The victory against the Bears marked Washington's second straight game with 200-plus rushing yards, including a season-high 84 on 11 carries by Robert Griffin III as well as 95 and 41 from Alfred Morris and Roy Helu Jr., respectively. Helu also ran for three TDs.

Griffin recorded a season-high 105.2 passer rating while benefiting from the emergence of tight end Jordan Reed, finding the rookie nine times in as many throws targeting him for 134 yards and a score. Reed had been building momentum, recording nine receptions for 108 yards in his previous two games.

"When you look at it coaches' talk-wise, he's wired to separate," Griffin said. "He's got good hands. And like I like to say, he's got a wide catch radius, so he can catch about anything you throw at him."

Denver's league-worst pass defense - yielding 339.1 yards per game - has been susceptible to opposing tight ends, allowing six or more catches and 74-plus yards to the position three times.

Meanwhile, Washington could be without both starting safeties as it tries to neutralize all of Manning's weapons. Strong safety Reed Doughty suffered a concussion Sunday, while Brandon Meriweather will serve a suspension reduced to one game after an appeal Wednesday. Meriweather had repeatedly hit defenseless players in the head and neck area, including two plays versus Chicago that were called for penalties.

Wes Welker and Julius Thomas are tied for the league lead with eight touchdowns each. Eric Decker's 627 receiving yards rank second, while Demaryius Thomas is tied for fourth with 610.

The teams have split 12 all-time meetings including Washington's Super Bowl victory. The Redskins claimed a 27-17 victory in the most recent matchup in 2009.
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10/25/2013 04:30 PM
It's unlikely, not expected and most believe it won't happen. However, it isn't impossible for the Washington Redskins to upset the Denver Broncos this Sunday afternoon in Denver, Colorado. If they want to pull off the stunning victory and shock the NFL world, here are five keys that they'll have to take care of to make it happen.

Key Number 1: Tight Coverage

We learned a lot from the Indianapolis Colts' win this past Sunday night and I'll reference them a couple of times in this post. The first one being their tight coverage on the Broncos' receivers. The defensive backs came and played strong press coverage and got in their faces at the point of attack. They were aggressive on the snap of the ball and were able to knock receivers off course and disrupt the timing of the offense. Doing so will help with the second key.

Key Number 2: Pressuring Peyton Manning

Another thing that the Colts taught us was that pressuring Peyton Manning is possible and can be very beneficial. They sacked Manning four times and hit him a whopping 10 times. That kind of pressure forced him to scramble and make a few errant throws. That all starts with the coverage. If the coverage isn't tight enough, then Manning will just fire the football right past blitzing linebackers and into the arms of his receivers.

Key Number 3: Stopping Julius Thomas

Julius Thomas has been a pretty reliable option for Peyton Manning at tight end. At 6-5, 250-pounds, why wouldn't he be? Through seven games, Thomas has been targeted at least four times each game and has had a touchdown catch in all but one game. On the season, he has eight touchdown receptions with 422 yards receiving on 36 catches.

Due to his size, Thomas becomes a favorable matchup for the Broncos against the Redskins' linebackers. At 6-4, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are the two tallest linebackers with London Fletcher standing at 5-10 and Perry Riley standing at 6-0. Athletically, Orakpo and Kerrigan don't match up well with Thomas and Riley and Fletcher don't match up well size-wise. They'll need to figure out how to keep Thomas from becoming Manning's favorite target despite the obvious mismatch.

Key Number 4: Robert Griffin III

It's hard to not make him a key to the game at this point. He is such an impact player that the whole team relies on his play making ability in order to make anything happen. Against the Chicago Bears, while it was Roy Helu Jr. that scored three touchdowns, it was Griffin that made everything come together on offense and he'll have to do that again on Sunday.

The Redskins will need Robert Griffin III to build on last week's performance and continue to effectively run the football. He'll need to keep the ball on the read option, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will need to call more quarterback runs and Griffin will have to make good throws as they have an advantage in the passing game. The Broncos' pass defense is worst in the league and by using RG3's ability to run, they could really open things up through the air. That could be the difference.

Key Number 5: Best Defense is a Good Offense

The best way to keep the Broncos' offense from scoring points is to simply not let them get on the field. Indianapolis was able to hold the football more on offense, having a time of possession three minutes longer than Denver's. Doing so allowed them to control the game and took precious seconds away from Manning's comeback attempt at the end of the game.

Washington needs to do the same in order to find success. They need to put together scoring drives, not just drives, of 8-12 plays and at least four minutes long. If the offense gets off to a slow start and goes three and out on the game's first few possessions, the Broncos could be winning 21-0 before the first quarter and then a comeback seems highly unlikely.

While it's a daunting task, it's not impossible. The Redskins can't afford a slow start by either the offense, defense or special teams like we've seen each game up until now. They'll need to be firing on all cylinders right from the get-go if they want to leave Denver with a victory on Sunday afternoon.
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10/26/2013 10:33 AM
Washington has four players listed as questionable: defensive end Stephen Bowen, safety Reed Doughty, receiver Leonard Hankerson and defensive tackle Chris Neild.

Denver has ruled cornerback Champ Bailey out, while offensive linemen Orlando Franklin and Chris Kuper are questionable.
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