The Washington Redskins are less than 48 hours away from making one of the most highly anticipated season debuts in franchise history. Yep, Pierre Garcon, Cedric Griffin and Alfred Morris will be playing their first games as members of the Redskins.
Oh, and Robert Griffin III, too.
What Washington has to do to win, offensive edition
The Redskins must attack a pass defense that allowed a league-high 14 completions of 40 yards or more last season and will be shorthanded in the linebacking corps. The 'Skins are clear underdogs, so they should go big or go home, taking consistent shots downfield in order to keep the heat off of Morris and Evan Royster.
What Washington has to do to win, defensive edition
Washington must use the same philosophy on defense: dial up the blitz in order to mask the deficiencies in the defensive backfield. The 'Skins have to let their best players shine, so Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan have to be let loose.
How Washington can lose
Well, they're fully expected to lose, but if they fail to get pressure against a very good offensive line and if Griffin struggles in his debut, they won't stand a chance.
Five most important non-quarterbacks
Trent Williams, Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Josh Wilson and Fred Davis.
Williams is responsible for protecting Griffin's blind side, so expect him to make this list all season. Orakpo and Kerrigan key the defense, while Wilson will have to take care of Marques Colston and/or Devery Henderson. Davis will be relied upon to act as Griffin's safety valve and will have to block like a champ to help right tackle Tyler Polumbus.
Injury analysis, Redskins edition
Brandon Meriweather is out with a knee injury, but I'm not sure they're downgrading by using DeJon Gomes in that spot. This just hurts from a depth perspective, so hopefully nothing happens to Gomes or Madieu Williams. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger will play, though, which will give the line a large boost. With Lichtensteiger last year, they were 3-1. Without him, they were 2-10.
Injury analysis, Saints edition
Even with Jonathan Vilma's suspension technically on hold, he won't play due to a knee injury. But Will Smith looks like he'll be good to go, which is very bad news for Griffin and his offensive line. Colston has a foot injury and was limited in Friday's practice, so that could help the 'Skins quite a lot considering their vulnerability through the air.
B/R NFC East Blog prediction
I think we'll see a lot of good from Griffin, but I don't believe it'll be enough. Ultimately, the Redskins secondary won't be able to slow down Drew Brees.
Saints 31, Redskins 23