The young Washington Redskins need to prove that they can bounce back from tough losses like the one they suffered last week in New Jersey. Against a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road, that won't be easy. But I've seen enough from this team to never count them out.
Here's a final preview and prediction for Washington's eighth game of the 2012 regular season.
What Washington must do to win, offensive edition
Let Robert Griffin III continue to rock the read-option attack against a slower, older Pittsburgh defense.
What Washington must do to win, defensive edition
Resist the temptation to throw everything at Ben Roethlisberger. Instead, lend reinforcements to the weak secondary and force Pittsburgh's depleted backfield to beat you.
How Washington can lose
By letting Pittsburgh's speedy receivers go to town on their struggling defensive backs.
Five most important non-quarterbacks: Trent Williams, Tyler Polumbus, Ryan Kerrigan, DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson
If they're going to unleash Griffin, they'll need both tackles to step up and perform well.They need more from Kerrigan to help that secondary—led by Hall and Wilson—which will have its hands full with Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.
Injury analysis, Redskins edition
Out: Pierre Garcon (foot), Brandon Meriweather (knee)
Questionable: London Fletcher (hamstring, head)
Probable: Cedric Griffin (hamstring), David Jones (Achilles), Saverio Rocca (right knee), Josh Wilson (shoulder), Doug Worthington (calf), Darrel Young (hamstring)
They're used to not having Garcon and Meriweather, but not getting them back yet stinks against Pittsburgh. Would have given them boosts. Fletcher has struggled anyway, but they need his leadership.
Injury analysis, Steelers edition
Out: Marcus Gilbert (ankle), Brandon Johnson (hamstring), Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles),
Troy Polamalu (calf)
Questionable: Isaac Redman (ankle)
Who will win Sunday?
Probable: Will Allen (ankle), Chris Carter (hamstring), Jonathan Dwyer (not injury related), Maurkice Pouncey (knee), Adrian Robinson (concussion), Shaun Suisham (left ankle), Jason Worilds (illness)
Not having Polamalu could be a back-breaker for the Steelers, who would have used him as the ultimate quarterback spy against RG3.
B/R NFC East Blog prediction
This might be my gut more than anything, but I think Griffin and Co. can pull it out against a defense that seems to lack teeth. I expect a lot of points and another close game, but I'm leaning Washington's way.
Redskins 34, Steelers 30