Aug 31, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter greet after the game at Raymond James Stadium. Washington Redskins defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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The Washington Redskins are gearing up for Week 2 of the NFL season. What crazy things could possibly happen during the game?
The Washington Redskins are just two days away from taking on the Dallas Cowboys in the second game of the 2016 NFL season. After a disappointing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, the team will look to bounce back against the Cowboys in a big-time divisional matchup.
In the game, there are a lot of possibilities for what could happen. As of now, many are predicting that the Redskins will come out on top for the game. Anything is possible for these contests, and nobody really knows what will happen. With that in mind, here is a look at some bold predictions for Sunday’s divisional rivalry.
Aug 11, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Redskins defensive back Josh Norman (24) shown on the field after the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Redskins 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
5. Josh Norman Covers Dez Bryant On 90 Percent Of Snaps
This should not have to be a bold prediction, but given the way Josh Norman was used in Week 1, nothing is guaranteed. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry seems to think that his scheme actually worked, and that means that he may keep Norman to one side of the field during the game against the Cowboys.
However, I think that move may have been a smokescreen by Barry and head coach Jay Gruden. The two have to have learned from their mistakes, and they cannot expect to put Bashaud Breeland on Dez Bryant and have good results. Breeland will certainly be able to shut down Terrance Williams, while Norman should limit Bryant. The Redskins probably realize that, but their game plan is still not clear.
If I had to guess, I think that Norman will play against Bryant for a majority of the game. Barry’s comments may have just been to protect his integrity, though that may have been counterproductive. At the end of the day, it would be surprising if Norman did not shadow Bryant so expect him to be on the stud wide-out 90 percent of the time.
Sep 12, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) prepares to throw the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
4. Kirk Cousins Completes 70 Percent Of Passes, Throws 2 TDs, No INTs
Kirk Cousins did not have a good season opener for the Redskins. Though he was mostly accurate, he had many throws that he could have improved upon. He also threw a crucial interception that really killed some of the momentum that the Redskins had during the contest. Cousins needs a bounce back game for the team, and I would expect him to have one on Sunday.
Cousins should continue to display elite accuracy and his receivers matchup favorable against the Cowboys secondary. I also think that Cousins will play smarter and not make any really risky throws. As a result, he will not throw any interceptions.
If the ground game improves, then Cousins should have more open space to throw into as well. Because of this, he should be able to move the ball effectively and he possibly could find some openings for players in the red zone. He will likely be able to throw a couple of touchdowns and help the Redskins perform well in this game.
Overall, a solid performance should be expected from Cousins. He may not put on a spectacular display, but an all-around game would help calm down the Redskins fans and front office alike after what transpired in Week 1.
Jan 3, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Washington Redskins defensive end Chris Baker (92) and linebacker Mason Foster (54) celebrate during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Redskins defeat the Cowboys 34-23. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
3. Mason Foster Records Double Digit Tackles Again
In the season opener, Mason Foster was one of the best Redskins defenders on the field. He was all over the place and racked up a bunch of tackles. He totaled 14 to be exact. Against the Cowboys, Foster’s tackling ability could be a necessity because of the Cowboys run game.
The strength of the Cowboys offense is definitely the run game. The team has an elite offensive line led by Tyron Smith, and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott should be an elite starter by the end of the season. The team also has former Redskin Alfred Morris as a power backup and Lance Dunbar as a receiving back. The Cowboys can often pick and choose how to use them depending on what weakness they want to expose.
Foster will help to make it more difficult for the Cowboys to have success. His major strength is in the run game where he can be a thumper. He should be able to make a lot of tackles once again, and I would certainly not be surprised to see him record 10 or more against the division rival.
Sep 12, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (86) runs after a catch against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
2. Jordan Reed Posts 100+ Receiving Yards, 1 TD
The Cowboys linebackers are going to have their hands full with their matchups against tight ends. Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis are a great duo on offense, and I expect that one of them will go off. In this contest, it makes the most sense that Reed will take advantage.
Reed is going to be able to get open over the middle of the field constantly in this game. Because of the Redskins elite receiving corps, the Cowboys secondary is not going to be able to help defend much against Reed without leaving another option wide open. As a result, Reed will get some open looks for intermediate gains, and Cousins will target him a lot.
I think that Reed will end up being the leading receiver for the Redskins in this game, and I think he will break through the century mark in this game. It should not surprise anyone to see him targeted in the red zone either, since he and Josh Doctson are the biggest options on the team. This will allow Reed to add a touchdown to his total and have a stellar day for the Redskins.
Sep 12, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins running back Matt Jones (31) rushes the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
1. Matt Jones Rushes For 100+ Yards, 1 TD
In the first game of the season, Matt Jones frankly did not look good. He only mustered 24 yards on 7 carries against the Steelers, and as a result the team could not get anything going in the run game. Jones is going to have to be better against the Cowboys on Sunday, and I firmly expect that he will.
The Cowboys front seven is missing three of their normal starters, so the Redskins need to make sure that they take advantage of this. One way of doing that will be getting their run game going early, so expect a heavy dose of Jones in the first quarter of the contest. Because of this, I think he could have a big day in the rushing department.
To put this in perspective, the Cowboys allowed 113 rush yards last week to Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen. Jones is a better overall back than both of those players, so he should eclipse the 100 yard mark on his own. I also think he will account for one of Washington’s scores. Hopefully this game will set the tone for the rest of Jones’ season.