Washington Redskins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Preview & Prediction

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistSeptember 28, 2012

September 23, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) runs the ball on the last drive against the Cincinnati Bengals during the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Bengals defeated the Redskins 38-31. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

The NFL's highest-powered offense and lowest-powered defense will try to come together to beat a sneaky-good but clearly flawed Tampa Bay Buccaneers team on the road Sunday. And if that can happen, the Washington Redskins will be 2-2 and right in the NFC East mix at the quarter pole of the 2012 NFL season.

A final look at the matchup 48 hours prior to kickoff...


What Washington must do to win, offensive edition

Things are fluid with Pierre Garcon's status up in the air, but the key will be to stretch Tampa's great run defense by attacking a vulnerable secondary. 


What Washington must do to win, defensive edition

Shut down Vincent Jackson, who's by far Josh Freeman's favorite target and the Bucs' top threat. The front seven should be able to handle Doug Martin. 


How Washington can lose

By failing to stop Jackson and Tampa's receivers in the secondary or by becoming completely one-dimensional by not finding unique ways to move the ball on the ground.


Five most important non-quarterbacks

Trent Williams, Pierre Garcon, Josh Wilson, Ryan Kerrigan, London Fletcher

Both Williams and Garcon are questionable, which is tough because Williams is Robert Griffin's top protector and Garcon is his key deep threat/most dangerous weapon. If they can't go, Washington's in trouble.

Wilson will be the key to stopping Jackson, while Kerrigan will be counted on to provide the rush. Fletcher will be responsible for the Tampa running game.


Injury analysis, Redskins edition

As I mentioned, Williams and Garcon are questionable. Garcon hasn't played since Week 1 and the Bucs offense has survived, but the pressure's on against a team like Tampa Bay. Plus, the Williams injury would make things extra difficult on Griffin. Oh, and depth receiver/return man Brandon Banks is also questionable.

On the bright side, it looks as though Brandon Meriweather will return to help in the defensive backfield, but I wouldn't look for him to make any sort of major impact.


Injury analysis, Buccaneers edition

Nickel cornerback E.J. Biggers looks set to make his season debut after practicing all week. The Bucs are extremely healthy in comparison to the teams from this division.


B/R NFC East Blog prediction

This is a good matchup for Washington. If Williams and Garcon don't play, I'm leaning toward Tampa Bay still at home. But I get the feeling that both will go, and I'm giving the 'Skins a close victory in a lower-scoring game than we've seen thus far.

Redskins 23, Buccaneers 21