Believe it or not, Philip Rivers is a candidate to be the Offensive Player of the Year. The rejuvenated San Diego Chargers quarterback leads the NFL with a completion percentage of 73.9 and is second to only Peyton Manning when it comes to passer rating.
You'd think that Rivers would at least be susceptible to making a slew of mistakes against an opportunistic Washington Redskins defense, but after throwing 48 interceptions over the last three seasons, he has only five this year.
Shorter drops and quicker releases have been the key, which doesn't bode well for Washington's defense.
If the Redskins can't find a way to slow Rivers down, they could be looking at a 2-6 start. It's time to pull out all the stops.
Here's our final preview of the overall matchup from Washington's perspective along with a prediction.
What Washington Must Do to Win, Offensive Edition
Run the damn ball. The 'Skins need more balance than they've had this season. I realize they've trailed a lot, so it's been tough, but they can't abandon the run—whether it's Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Roy Helu or all of the above.
They have to keep that San Diego offense off the field and control this game from the get-go. The best way to do that is by really getting creative and aggressive on the ground.
What Washington Must Do to Win, Defensive Edition
Stay home and focus on coverage. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Rivers has been the league's second-most accurate quarterback under pressure and deadly against the blitz (eight touchdowns, one pick and a 116.3 passer rating).
That receiving corps isn't exactly loaded with stars, though, so the 'Skins should clamp down hard to prevent big plays.
5 Most Important Non-Quarterbacks
Alfred Morris: He and Helu have to perform well to take pressure off Griffin.
Kory Lichtensteiger and Chris Chester: Not only has a ton of that pressure come against the interior of the offensive line, but both guards will also be responsible for opening up holes for Morris and Helu.
DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson: Again, the key on defense will be sound coverage.
Pro Football Focus
Injury Analysis, Chargers Edition
The defense is banged up. According to Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com, middle linebacker Donald Butler has missed the last two games with a groin injury and is doubtful for this one. ESPN.com indicates that Eric Weddle (toe) and Jarret Johnson (hamstring) are also hurting but expected to play.
This all bodes well for the Redskins' running game.
Who will win Sunday?
Injury Analysis, Redskins Edition
The Redskins are actually really healthy. ESPN.com suggests Griffin banged his "other" knee last week, but appears to be fine while Pierre Garcon should be good to go after being limited early in the week by a calf injury.
B/R NFC East Blog Prediction
Two inconsistent teams, but the Chargers have the advantage of traveling after the bye. Washington suffered a tremendous fourth-quarter letdown in Denver and could be in just as much trouble against a rejuvenated Philip Rivers.
Prediction: Chargers 27, Redskins 23