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WT: It Only Gets Tougher From Here


stwasm

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An article to help those of you with the burgundy-and-gold-colored glasses to keep Sunday's game in perspective. These next seven weeks will determine whether this team is a contender or a pretender.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20071009/SPORTS01/110090085/1005/sports

With the soft underbelly of their schedule complete, the Washington Redskins had their usual Victory Monday — no meetings, practice or weightlifting — yesterday as a reward for their 34-3 dismantling of the soon-to-be-hapless-again Detroit Lions.

Now comes the tough stuff.

"The bad news is now we have to go to Lambeau Field," coach Joe Gibbs said. "It's one of the toughest places to play, and they're red hot — their quarterback [brett Favre], it's hard to believe the guy's 38."

The next seven weeks have the potential for a lot of bad news:

• Five games in seven weeks against teams with winning records.

• Road games against division leaders Green Bay, New England, Dallas and Tampa Bay.

• Home games against improved Arizona and revenge-minded Philadelphia.

The first quarter of the season showed that the Redskins' much-improved defense can pressure the passer, quarterback Jason Campbell is constantly progressing and running back Clinton Portis has returned to form.

So far, they're one of only three NFC teams (Dallas and Green Bay) with fewer than two losses. The Redskins' defense ranks third in both fewest yards and fewest points allowed. The Redskins have proved to be a great first-half team, outscoring opponents 44-16.

But the next seven games will answer a basic question: Are the Redskins any good?

"If we want to get to where we want to be, we have to play well on the road," center Casey Rabach said. "We do have some tough games and back-to-back trips coming up. It's about staying focused and taking care of each task."

The one-game-at-a-time cliche was out in full force yesterday. All of the focus, players say, is on the 4-1 Packers, who squandered a 20-10 lead in a loss to visiting Chicago on Sunday night.

"We can't look any further than that," Portis said. "Every Sunday, we've got one game. This week we've got Green Bay. I can't look at the overall [picture]. I can't look at playing 13 straight games without a break. None of that. You focus on the next game and handle that situation."

Said defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin: "We want to win at home first, and if you can get some on the road, that's big. It's definitely going to be a challenge. Green Bay is up first, and I'm not concerned with who's down the road."

That's probably the best approach considering the Redskins' lack of success as a road underdog.

Since Gibbs returned in 2004, they have posted a 10-15 road record. Only two of the wins (Dallas in 2005, New Orleans last year) came against teams that finished with winning records.

On the Redskins' side, besides having better personnel at certain positions, are their last two road wins. In December, they defeated New Orleans 16-10 at the raucous Superdome by outgaining the high-powered Saints 354-270.

Last month, the Redskins spoiled Philadelphia's home opener with 20-12 victory.

"That gave us confidence playing on the road — winning in a tough environment and performing on Monday night," Campbell said.

Campbell is 2-2 in road games with a 52.1 completion percentage, 83.6 passer rating, five touchdowns and one interception.

"I'm glad Jason has played [on the road]," Gibbs said. "The Saints game was huge because it was indoors and loud. The quarterback is one big part of things and how he handles all of it. These are some of the things he'll have to show he can handle."

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These next few games are going to be a huge oppurtunity. Lots of NFC games with a few East games sprinkled in. NE is the only dominant team on the schedule, while many of the others have been scrappy/overachievers (Arizona, TB, GB.) We obviously need to win our home games, and take a road victory or two as well. The keys here are the conference and division games. If we can take out Dallas, at Dallas, we can take the lead for the division and put ourselves in control of our playoff future. Should be a fun October.

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It will be tough to keep pace with Dallas after they dodged last night's bullet.

Dallas' second half of their schedule is difficult.. They have a week 8 bye, then come back in week 9. From week 9 on:

@Philly/ @NYG/ Skins/ Jets (Thurs, Thanksgiving, short week)/ Green Bay (Thursday again)/ @Detroit/ Philly/ @Carolina (Saturday, another short week)/ @Skins.

As long as we keep within a game or two of Dallas by the time we play them in week 11, we could be able to overtake them completely.

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It's quite simple acatually.

If we go 4-2 over the next 6 games, then there will be no doubts that this team is for real.

If we go 3-3 over the next 6 games, then we can be satisfied that we have a solid team on the rise but the playoffs will still be a question mark.

If we go below .500 over the next 6 games, the nay-sayers will be lining up.

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It will be tough to keep pace with Dallas after they dodged last night's bullet.

We play them twice. Dallas CANT pull away from us without beating us and that is a beautiful thing about being in the division with the guy in front of you. You make him have to face you. I can't wait to face dallas. They havent seen our defense yet. If our offense gets healthy and we keep this thing rolling and face the cowboys both with similar records I think we can take them. They can't hide from us and we can't hide from them. Quite frankly this is why losing the giant game AT HOME was so horrendous. These division games are humongous.

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If we go 3-2 during this stretch (very doable BTW), we'll be sitting at 6-3. Not bad at all. If we manage to only lose to the Patsies, we're looking at 7-2 which is obviously most excellent.

A 3-2 run is your best-case, and probably most realistic, scenario right there. But, as PJ and Taylor have said, let's just worry about the Packers for me.

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The good thing is like what was said an another article. I think the skins are getting better, and the cowboys can become stagnant after that Monday nite game against the bills. The enitre league now knows how to stop the Cowboys offense. And I already knew if you raddle TO and Homo, the rest of the chain starts to break down. And the Skins and Taylor already have TO's number, pop him in the mouth a few times and it's over.

Also, if you play the middle and take away Whitten with a LB spying Romo sits to pee and the middle of the field, Romo sits to pee attends to throw in that area alot (see Bills 5 picks) looking for Whitten in the middle of the field. I also noticed Dallas killing other teams with that same play and area that the Bills had covered all night.

Anyhow, I think the Skins and Giants will start picking up steam as the season progress. And what we need is for maybe New England and some other spoiler give dallas a few losses so the NFC East can become tighter. And not letting Dallas run away with the thing from poor coaching like in the Bills game.

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This is going to be tough.......... If they can get to 7-3 (losses to New England and Dallas) then they would have to go 3-3 the rest of the way to get into the playoffs.

The important thing is they have to beat the NFC teams. A must for tie-breakers!!!!!!!!

Not saying they cant do better, but we will know allot more after this Sunday.

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