Monday, September 28, 2009

Hunting With The Predator: Visualize the Victory by Matt Wallace

Here’s all you need to know about Sunday’s matchup vs. the Lions: the Redskins will come out of Detroit 2-1.

Usually my superstitions dictate that predicting a win ultimately jinxes a team. But in this case, I’m going to go ahead and say that the Redskins will come out on top. Why? Because they have to win. It might not be pretty. It might not be the sublime masterpiece of a ball game fans have been yearning for the past ten years, but they will win. They will. It’s a fact.

It’s no secret that the Redskins tend to play to the level of their opponent. That was plainly clear last week. Following the trend, many prognosticators and fans alike are worried, or even certain, that the Lions will at least cover the six-point spread, if not win. Fair enough. But to them I say, have some faith! It’s all about seeing the win before it happens. And if spectators are down enough that they can’t visualize a positive outcome against the Lions, then what’s the use in even following the team?

Many consider the eternal optimist to be naïve (and annoying), but at some point fans need to set aside their doubts, get behind the team, and believe they can put together a solid 60 minute performance. It’s true that the team has yet to really prove themselves this year, or even over the past eight games or so. But what use is it to dwell on missed plays and poor performances? Despite some lackluster showings recently, I believe the Redskins have every position filled with a very capable individual, and it’s only a matter of time before all those individuals finally start playing together. Why not look towards the game that finally starts things off (which could very well be Sunday) rather than hate on what has already happened?

Last year they had a few big wins early on, and then lost to some very mediocre opponents later in the year. The result was a very medium 8-8. Could it be that their close games early on this year will give way to some bigger wins later in the year? I won’t be surprised if it happens. I would much rather peak late in the season than fizzle out come December.

Ultimately the point is: it’s early.

No reason to call for anyone’s head just yet and no reason to fear a loss, even if it’s a means of self-preservation. It may not feel like it, but the Skins are still 1-1. Going up against an 0-2 squad this week is just what they need to finally set the tone. It’s true that Johnson and Stafford can be ball players when they show up, but the Lions as a whole are very beatable. The Lions rushing game is paltry so far, and should be demolished by the Skins’ run defense. Look to Stafford to throw quick screens to try and open up the field for both Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith. He only has 50% pass completion so far, so going deep won’t be a high priority in the Lions game plan.

Players need short memories to forget missed opportunities so they can play to their potential. I think a win on Sunday will help shorten the memories of some fans and turn the current tide of skepticism into support for the Redskins.

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In all the commotion and bickering between fans and players and the media this week, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard very little coming from Chris Horton. He was the man of the match, arguably the lone game changer with his forced fumble and pass breakup against the Rams last week. And aside from a few folks in the media who recognized The Predator’s contributions, nobody’s heard so much as a blip or a tweet about him. Where some would celebrate their accomplishments, Horton doesn’t take himself out of the game. Undoubtedly he’s got his head down, playing through practice, studying film, and focusing on the next game on the schedule. He knows that a season is made one week at a time.

Sunday’s match up is the kind of game Predator fans should live for. Horton should roll on his solid showing last week to make some big stops if the opportunities arise. (Is it time for Horton’s first professional pick six?)



Prey of the Week: Matthew Stafford. Calvin Johnson is solid, but he can’t score touchdowns if he doesn’t get the ball. Stafford is young and has yet to settle into his role, and Horton has the potential to introduce him to the turf several times this week.

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