This week of Washington Redskins football has me more worried than any other.
I wasn't so worried about the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts. I looked at the situation realistically and said that it was plausible for the 'Skins to split those games. I looked at the Bears and chalked it up as a win, even though I thought it'd be an ugly one—and it was.
But this was the game, from the beginning of the season, that I was most worried about. It screamed trap game from the very start—nothing about it felt right. And watching the Lions play, they're a team possessed. They've absolutely been in each one of the games they've played. Even down to their third-string quarterback, they still seemed to be finding ways to try to get it done.
But let's go back—back to Week 3.
I don't know why the Redskins fell asleep when they faced the St. Louis Rams. Maybe they were riding high on the Dallas win. Maybe they felt they did so great against the Texans the week before that the Rams would be cake.
They weren't. The Rams embarrassed the Redskins—outplayed, outlasted and outscored the Redskins. The team went into what should've been a winnable game and laid a giant egg.
The Lions have been looking like the best 1-5 team in the NFL. You can take out their quarterback, the running back can struggle with turf toe, the defense can struggle against the pass—yet the Lions have been in nearly every game, regardless of the circumstances.
After beating the Bears in an ugly showing and following another frustrating week for the Redskins offense, this whole game has me feeling uneasy.
It'd be nice if the Redskins could pull this win out and dominate like I know they can. The Lions still have holes in their defense. Rookie Ndamukong Suh is absolutely worth the first round draft pick, but their offense still struggles and is thin at cornerback.
Their offense is decent, and it looks like Matthew Stafford will be back at quarterback. Jahvid Best and Calvin Johnson have had a week to heal, and Brandon Pettigrew is emerging as a pretty good target as well. I'm not sure about their offensive line, though—half the reason why the Lions have had to start three quarterbacks this season is because of the shoddy play of their offensive line. And if there's one guy Brian Orakpo can beat off the line, it's their aging left tackle Jeff Backus. Plus, even with an extra week of practice, who knows how rusty Stafford will be, or how much trouble his shoulder will give him.
There's no reason why the Redskins can't win this game. They have Donovan McNabb. The offensive line is pretty good. Ryan Torain has been awesome in his feature back role. The offense is deceptively talented, and the defense has started to gel well. For frak's sake, Albert Haynesworth is starting to play lights out football.
But...there's still that feeling—that uneasy feeling that rises up in my throat and makes me cry, "we could be utterly embarrassed and humiliated in this game."
The Redskins cannot allow themselves to take the Detroit Lions lightly. The Lions are 20th in passing defense. They're 27th against the run. They're 19th in scoring defense. If they go out and play hard and run hard and play the same style of physical football they have been, they could win this. All the pieces are there.
I'm hoping the Rams game was a lesson that you can't sleep on any team. I hope Jim Haslett doesn't decide to lay off Stafford and that he sends pressure, unlike what he did versus the Rams. I hope we shut down Jahvid Best.
Carlos Rogers is good enough to cover Calvin Johnson. Armstrong's still a big play threat, and you can't count out Santana or Cooley or Moss. And Ryan Torain is making a damn good case for himself to continue to be the featured back even when Clinton Portis is healthy again.
I hope they go into this game and play hard and hungry. I hope they go into the Lions game like it's a divisional game. The Redskins are too good—yeah, I said it—to get beaten by the Lions.
That's not an insult to the Lions: I like what they're doing. I think they'll be playoff contenders with some solid drafts. And I think they'll make a game of it. They aren't going to lay down and let teams roll over them. Nope, not any longer. The Lions—love 'em or hate 'em—are for real, and the sooner playoff teams accept that, the better off they'll be.
But the Redskins are just...better. They should win this game. They should win it handily and get some solid position in the NFC East. As long as they play hungry and play physical and make few mistakes, they should win.
And yet, I'm nervous. Very nervous. Nervous that even though I know, understand and can see on paper that this team should win...I still fear it will be Redskins/Rams part two. I'm worried that the Redskins will walk in having listened to the talk all week about how it'll be a cake walk, how they'll be heavy favorites to win the game and just dog it, expecting to win.
Allow me to say this: The Redskins are not the kind of team who has earned the right to say that they can walk into any game and win it. Not yet. Maybe in a season or two, but right now? The 2010 Washington Redskins?
Nope. It's time to go to work guys. You should win this game. You've got everything it takes to win this game. But you can not walk onto Ford Field and think you've already won before the first snap takes place. It's time to play inspired football. I know everyone is sore and tired, but do not walk in and say, "we've got this won."
The Lions have proved all season that if you decide you want to sleep on their team, they'll eat you alive all day. They'll make you look dumb and and make you wonder what the hell just happened. The Redskins need the win going into the bye week. 5-3 not only puts the Redskins in first in the NFC East on a week where both the Giants and the Eagles are on a bye, it'd give them momentum going into the bye.
Then, on Monday Night Football with the lights shining bright, the Eagles come to FedEx Field, and we can all let Michael Vick know how we feel about him here in the DMV.
The second half of the season starts now. Now is the time that, if we're going to make a playoff push, we start to make a run towards the NFC East Division Championship. The Cowboys are all but out of the running; it's time to put the peddle to the metal and make a go at this thing.
The Detroit Lions are not a team to be taken lightly. No "we've got this." Time to ignore the fact that everyone and their mother is going to pick us to win, with very few dissenters.
It's time to go into this game like a winless team and play inspired football. Mike Shanahan has been doing a good job of getting this team to believe that they can win; now is the time when Mike Shanahan has to stress that no win comes easily, and that while it's okay to believe you can win, you also have to earn every win.
I don't want a repeat of Week 3. A dominating win would be great, but just a solid, good game of football with both sides of the ball performing like they know what they're doing will be good enough for me. Hell, even if we win ugly, at least it's a win.
But the 'Skins can't sleep on this team, lest they want to be a laughing stock again. And yeah, then they'd be desperate to come out and beat the Eagles...but I'll take a solid win over a desperation win any day.
Time to go to work, boys; there's no time to sleep. The NFC East is still winnable. It's time to make a stand.
It starts Sunday against the Lions. It's time to play inspired football for four quarters.
Let's get the road to the playoffs kicked off right.