The Arizona Cardinals could hand the Washington Redskins their second-straight loss if they’re able to shut down Kirk Cousins and his offense.
The Arizona Cardinals will return home after a two-game road trip to host the 6-4-1 Washington Redskins.
For the Cardinals, it’s been a season that nobody could have seen coming. Instead of contenders heading into the home stretch of the regular season, the Cards are now pretenders playing for a good draft pick.
What’s their story?
The Redskins, lead by quarterback Kirk Cousins, are a different story than these struggling Cardinals.
Jay Gruden’s Redskins are looking to build off of last year’s 9-7 record that pushed them into the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. Although they were bested by the Green Bay Packers 35-18 in the Wild Card round, the Redskins proved they were contenders, thanks to the efforts of Cousins.
This season, Washington kicked off the regular season with back-to-back losses against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. It wasn’t an ideal start for a team envisioning a second-straight run to the playoffs.
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But the Redskins got it together after stumbling in the first two weeks. They rattled off four consecutive wins, improving to 4-2. Three of those four victories were decided by seven points or less. It may not have been convincing, but Gruden and his squad will take a win any way they can get one.
The Redskins have been playing some good football as of late. They failed to upset the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys, the kings of the NFL, on Thanksgiving with a 31-26 loss. The last time the Cowboys lost came in Week 1, so a match-up with them almost seems like a guaranteed defeat. The ‘Skins put up a good fight against the Cowboys, thanks to Cousin’s 364 passing yards.
Two weeks before their date with Dallas, Washington dominated their way through the NFC North with wins against the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers.
X’s and O’s
The Redskins pose a threat to the Arizona Cardinals defense. Cousins and his offense are ranked ninth in the league in points per game with 25.5, second with 426.4 yards, and second with 314.8 passing yards.
Not only do they throw the ball extremely well, they can run efficiently as well. Their 111.5 rushing yards per game is good for eleventh in all of football. Over the last few weeks, rookie Rob Kelley has taken over as the team’s starting running back with a string of brilliant performances. Since Week 8 when he started to get more snaps, he has racked up 358 rushing yards with four touchdowns on 81 carries.
Matt Jones was the Redskins’ starter in the first half of the season, but struggled to hang on to the football. Kelley has since solidified his role with Washington after capitalizing on Jones’ mistakes.
While the Cardinals have one of football’s strongest defenses, the Redskins struggle. They rank 25th with 369.6 yards per game and are tied for 24th with 24.0 points allowed per game.
Luckily for Carson Palmer, the Redskins are tied second for league-worst with 14.0 sacks. Due to a shaky offensive line, Palmer has already been sacked 32 times this season.
The Redskins clearly rely on their offense, and really struggle on the defensive side. Thankfully, the Cards’ defensive unit is their strong suit. If they’re able to shut down Cousins and Kelley and Palmer is under no stress, the Cardinals could hand the Redskins back-to-back losses for the first time since Weeks 1 and 2.