NFL Picks Week 1: How RG3, Washington Redskins Will Beat New Orleans Saints
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Griffin has shown through the preseason that he has the tools to succeed in the league, which is why it's easy to make this bold prediction.
Plus, there are still other issues for the Saints outside of what Griffin is going to bring to the table.
The Saints still have Drew Brees at quarterback, Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles at running back and a plethora of wide receivers. The defense has most of its guys back, along with a few good additions.
In truth, the Saints offense looks head and shoulders above the Redskins offense. But, they're not matching up together.
Where the Redskins can make the biggest difference on defense is the play of their linebackers. With Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and London Fletcher, Washington has the ability to limit the Saints' output. While New Orleans will rack up yards, the Redskins will employ the bend, but not break strategy.
The defense is what will be the weakness for the Saints on the field. At each level, they have issues.
On the defensive line, Will Smith is out due to his four-game bounty scandal suspension, leaving the Saints without any real pass-rushing threats.
Will the Redskins beat the Saints in Week 1?
At linebacker, Curtis Lofton takes over in the middle for also suspended (full season) Jonathan Vilma. Other than that, the outside linebackers don't look strong. When you have to trade for Barrett Ruud in the middle of preseason, you know something's wrong.
Then there's the secondary that got torched by Matt Schaub and Blaine Gabbert in the preseason. Now, I can understand Schaub, but Gabbert? Really? How do you let him go 13-for-16 for 112 yards and two touchdowns in limited action? Sounds like there are some major breakdowns going on.
Griffin will take advantage of those weaknesses, using tight end Fred Davis to create mismatches in the middle of the field, and using newly acquired wide receiver Pierre Garcon on the outside.
The running game should also see some success as the Redskins have three capable running backs who can carry the load.
In short, the Saints won't be able to load up the box on Griffin. He has weapons at his disposal.
But, that's only the secondary issue. So, where's the real problem?
The answer lies with Sean Payton, the suspended head coach of the Saints.
I still believe the Saints will have a decent year. However, it's going to take them time to get used to Payton not being on the sidelines during the regular season.
Aaron Kromer will take over for the first six games, with Joe Vitt taking the reins after his six-game suspension is up.
As the team adjusts to a new guy calling the shots, there will be a natural apprehension to not screw up. Brees will still be Brees, but you can't expect Kromer to call a game like Payton.
With Mike Shanahan in charge in Washington, you can be sure the Redskins are going to take advantage every chance they get. I can see him going for it early on a fourth down to force Kromer to use a timeout or having Griffin go all Cam Newton on the Saints.
Shanahan will use his experience to gain an edge, and in the end, the suspensions will cost the Saints the win.
The Saints will get a chance to see how much Payton really means to the team.
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