October 15, 2010

Five Keys To A Redskins Victory: Control The Clock To Beat The Colts

My weekly Redskins for SB Nation DC. I'm back after a week off. I apologize for depriving you of my insightful commentary this week, but stay tuned all weekend for my live coverage of Sunday night's game vs. the Colts. I'll be in the press box, making sure you all receive the inside scoop. So follow me on Twitter @jackandersoniii and stay locked to 'Skins Talk.
After five weeks of football, the Washington Redskins sit atop the NFC East as they head into this Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts. The matchup is one between a pair of 3-2 teams, but let's face it; the Redskins are huge underdogs in this game.
Indianapolis is the model of consistent success in the regular season while Washington is still finding its feet when it comes to winning games week in and week out. They have proven they are a much tougher bunch under Mike Shanahan, but Indianapolis is a different monster from that of Green Bay, Dallas or Philadelphia. Peyton Manning doesn't drop prime time games very often, and the Colts can only lose two more games on the year if they want to win 12 games for the eighth straight season.

The Colts are that game on every opponent's schedule where fans point to it and chalk it up as a loss before the season even starts. Needless to say, I pity the AFC South's unfortunate circumstances.
As big a showdown as this is, I don't believe the game is a must-win for Washington. I hate to downplay one-sixteenth of the season, but the Redskins don't have to win on Sunday to save their year. Naturally, a win would send a clear message that they are legitimate contenders in the NFC, but it's an out-of-conference matchup and the Redskins have shown themselves to be a resilient football team who will compete in every game. A loss to Indianapolis would not send the season into a tailspin.
However, there's no question Washington would love to defend their home field against a vaunted team such as the Colts. Here's how they can.
Protect The Ball
Only five teams have a higher turnover differential than the Redskins +4 margin this season. It's especially key in this game to limit turnovers because the Colts have only turned the ball over five times on offense. Manning has thrown just two interceptions while attempting a league high 216 passes. Indianapolis won't give the ball away, which means Washington can't either. Extra possessions for Manning translate to Indianapolis winning the time of possession battle and receiving more scoring opportunities.
With an offense as high-powered as Indy's, the Redskins have to continue to protect the football and ensure their defense isn't put in a tough spot because of turnovers. So far this year, Donovan McNabb has three interceptions and the offense has lost one fumble, giving the team an average of less than one turnover per game. They will need more of the same on Sunday.

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