Monday Night. Superdome. Prime-time coverage and a national stage. The Redskins are heading down to New Orleans.
In what is easily the most anticipated game of the year, the Washington Redskins will face a true test this Monday night against the New Orleans Saints. Widely regarded as a playoff favorite–if not Superbowl contender–the Saints will walk on the field with seven pro-bowlers and a future Hall of Famer at quarterback.
Therefore, this is the ultimate “benchmark” game for the team from Washington. Are they for real? Can they contend with premier teams? How good is our defense, really?
All of these questions will be answered shortly after the clock hits zero on Monday night.
Below, you will find four key questions we hope to answer while watching the NFC East leading Redskins (2-1), take on the NFC South leading Saints (3-1).
1) Can The Redskins Stop Alvin Kamara?
Let’s just put it out there. Alvin Kamara may simply be the best running back in football. In four games, he has complied over 600 yards and six touchdowns. He’s a human cheat code. A perfect blend of speed and size, Kamara can do it all. In addition to his 275 rushing yards, he has 35 receptions on the season.
That alone is pretty eye-opening. But when you delve further, you find that he has been targeted 47 times this year. Including 20 pass attempts when he played Atlanta. This guy is the key to the Saints offense.
But don’t be fooled into thinking Kamara is simply a receiving back. He has some power to him. He carries 215 pounds–the same as Adrian Peterson–and can run in-between the tackles. He’s the type to put his shoulder down and fall forward. The Redskins will have their hands full on Monday.
Limiting Kamara should be the Redskins number one priority. They sure as hell won’t be able to stop him.
2) Will Drew Brees Become the League’s All-Time Passing Leader?
The short answer to this question is “Yes”. But let’s hope it’s hope it’s in a losing effort.
Drew Brees will take the field 201 yards away from being the NFL’s leader in career passing yards. He currently is third on the list behind Hall of Famer Brett Favre and the legend Peyton Manning.
Brees should leave the field in sole place of the record on Monday. In 69 of his last 71 games, Brees has surpassed the 200-yard plateau, including all four games this season. So it’s almost a foregone conclusion. If the Redskins want to win this game, they must seize the energy from the home crowd and ensure that this record will fall in a meaningless effort. I mean, Brees can throw as many yards as he’d like in a losing effort, am I right?
3) Will Mark Ingram make an impact?
In typical DC sports fashion, the Redskins are dealt a stroke of bad luck. Mark Ingram will return to the Saints after a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. While many may discredit his return, it’s hard to ignore that Ingram had over 1500 total yards in 2017 and 12 rushing touchdowns. Considering he is fresh, playing on Monday night (at home), and with a chip on his shoulder, it is easy to envision a big game from Ingram. I’d expect Ingram to spell Kamara on occasion, keeping both of the backs fresh. I’d also anticipate Ingram getting much of the goal line work. The questions tonight will be, “how many carries will Ingram get?” and “will conditioning be a factor?”. These are things to monitor while watching tonight’s game.
4) How will the Redskins Offense Fare?
A good portion of this article has focused on the Saints and their surplus of weapons. But the Redskins have some talent as well. Adrian Peterson has had a resurgence, and Alex Smith has proved to be a capable game manager.
But tonight, it looks like the Redskins will need to go out of their comfort zone and pass the ball if they expect to win. The Saints currently have the third-best rushing defense in the NFL, allowing an average of 79.5 yards per game. Conversely, they rank 30th in terms of passing defense (allowing 311 yards per game).
These rushing stats shouldn’t be brushed off either. The Saints have had stout competition the last two weeks and have contained Tevin Coleman (33 yards) and Saquon Barkley (44 yards). Both of these backs are capable of springing a big gain at any second.
This should be concerning for the ‘Skins, because it appears the offense needs to move the ball on the ground to win. Let’s hope Gruden can scheme some creative runs to allow Peterson to break free.
If the running game stalls, this may be the game in which Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed, and Paul Richardson set the pace for the Redskins. Although the Saints defense was highly touted going into this season, they have been susceptible and have been scored on. This year they have allowed 30.2 points/game, which sits at 29th in the league.
So far the Saints have had games they have allowed 48 and 37 points against them. The Redskins should confidently enter this game and expect a shootout. Hopefully coming off a bye week they are well prepared.
Expect a shootout in which the Saints outpace the Redskins 28-24. Ingram will have his first score of the season and we will witness Drew Brees break history on Monday night. It’s going to be an exciting game, but the array of weapons that the Saints offer will be too much for the Redskins to contain.