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WEEK FIFTEEN Picks, Pats, and Apologies (special rivalry edition)


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Last Week: 12-4

Season: 136-70

In honor of our huge game this week, I've decided to dedicate all of this space to Redskins-Cowboys. Here are my quick picks for the week.

Patriots 20, Bucs 17

Giants 23, Chiefs 21

Broncos 19, Bills 13

Cardinals 31, Texans 23

Panthers 27, Saints 17

Dolphins 20, Jets 10

Steelers 24, Vikings 14

Colts 27, Chargers 24

Titans 21, Seahawks 20 (not a typo :) )

Jaguars 26, 49ers 7

Bengals 30, Lions 24

Raiders 28, Browns 21

Rams 24, Eagles 21

Falcons 17, Bears 13

Ravens 16, Packers 13

Now, for the only one that really matters...

Dallas at Washington:

As a quick memo, let me say that in this thread, I am doing my best to eliminate all fan-based emotion. I fully plan on posting something quite the opposite later, but for the purposes of my selection, I'm really trying to simply analyze the game minus personal feelings (not easy).

Dallas is such a hard team on which to get an accurate read. They've had a rollercoaster season where their offense can go from dreadful (at the Giants) to superb (Chiefs) in one week. Their defense has at times been dominant (first 57 minutes versus Redskins, both Giants games), and at other times the defense has been shredded like files at Enron (last three minutes of Redskins game, last week versus Chiefs). All six of their previous road games have gone down to the wire, including a great win in San Diego and a bad loss in Oakland. Even the 49ers played with Dallas until the final gun. So, the only real trend regarding the Cowboys is that there really isn't much of a trend at all-- except that it will probably be close in the 4th quarter.

The Redskins have also played their fair share of nail-biters, but in their case, it's more predictable. The Cowboys have been inconsistent within their consistency, winning and losing games 13-10, then turning around and winning or losing games 27-24. The Redskins have more or less stayed the course: Keep it conservative, keep it close, win in the end. Virtually every game has been a grind for the Redskins, points always at a premium.

So, it makes perfect sense, based on these two recent histories, that this game is going to be decided in the 4th quarter.

Drew Bledsoe is extremely dangerous when given time to throw. Terry Glenn has emerged as one of the best deep threat WR's in the NFL, and Keyshawn Johnson and Jason Witten give Bledsoe two more reliable targets that can also stretch the field. The Cowboys can really move the ball through the air, even as their running game sputters along most weeks. This could spell big trouble for the Redskins, as their one glaring weakness on defense is getting pressure on the QB. The Redskins manage to blitz and scheme and grind it out week after week, but they do leave themselves exposed in the secondary-- and a good QB with dangerous receivers could make them pay.

But all in all, the Redskins defense versus the Cowboys offense isn't going to determine the outcome of this game. Both of those units are solid, and both will probably play to a stand-still. This game hinges on two factors.

1. The Redskin offense verus the Cowboy defense. As mentioned earlier, the Cowboys defense has been a bit schizo this year, looking dominant one week and soft the next. Mark Brunell got off to a fast start this year, but he has gradually worn down, and lately the Redskins passing attack has been margainalized to dump-offs and screens. This is forcing the Redskins to run their offense in an imaginary box around the line of scrimmage, which makes it very easy for the opposing defense to focus on stopping Clinton Portis. Somehow, despite the predictability, the Redskins have managed to move the ball JUST enough in the past few weeks to control the ball, score enough points, and allow their defense to seal the victory. But in a game like this, banking on that strategy is dangerous business. Chances are the Redskins are going to need more than "game management" from Brunell if they are to win this game. And that leads to the final key......

2. Magic. I said I'd try to keep emotion out of this, but only a fool would ignore homefield advantage and the fan's involvement in the outcome of this game. The weather looks ugly at best, and dreadful at worst, which probably plays into the hands of the home team. The Cowboys rely on moving the ball through the air, and that task becomes more difficult if rain, sleet, and snow are falling on the field. In addition to the weather, this is the most highly anticipated game at Fed Ex field since it opened in 1997. The fans will be rocking, it will be hard for Bledsoe and company to hear, and the Redskins should be fired up and confident.

I think when this game boils down, both units on both sides of the ball will play to a virtual stalemate. This game is going to turn on emotion, intangibles, and maybe some luck. Recent history says the Redskins lose that type of a game. But slowly but surely, Joe Gibbs is making recent history ancient history.

Redskins 20, Cowboys 17.

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I dont think the Giants are good enough to end the Chiefs playoff hopes because the Chiefs are gonna be coming in there pumped up and wanting to go to the playoffs

i have to agree. Without Pierce the Giants defense will not be a force, especially when it comes to stopping the run which right KC is the top 3 team in the NFL IMO. It will come down to Eli being able to beat KC and I just don't see that happening.

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I don't know why but something about James Thrash's return this week makes me feel just a bit more confident than I otherwise would.

I feel the same way. Just having another veteran like him on the offense(especially at WR) gives me a lot more confidence that they can get it done.

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