Reporting John Auville ‘Cakes’
The Washington Redskins have reached a crossroads in their 2011 campaign, losing their last two games to even their record at 3-3, and suffering massive personnel losses in the process. Two weeks ago, the Redskins had to feel fortunate with the lack of key injuries, getting out to a 3-1 record. But since then, season-ending injuries to Tim Hightower, Chris Cooley, and Kory Lichtensteiger have decimated the roster, and have been a key factor in the latest losses, to Philadelphia and Carolina. Now, the Redskins head to Toronto for a matchup with the Buffalo Bills, and here are three reasons why they can win, and improve their record to 4-3:
1) No homefield advantage for Buffalo - Technically, it’s a home game for the Buffalo Bills, but the Redskins are dodging a bullet by not having to play this game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The NFL’s desperate attempt to win over Canadian fans that don’t really care about NFL football is a major advantage for the Redskins. Tickets are readily available for Redskins fans willing to go north of the border, and there should be a sizable contingent of burgundy and gold-clad fans in attendance this Sunday. A home crowd at Buffalo is much more intimidating than a bunch of Maple Leafs fans that happened to stumble upon a pair of tickets to see the Bills-Skins tilt. It’s not a home game, but you’d rather play at a neutral site than in an opponent’s home stadium.
2) Buffalo’s defense stinks on ice – The Bills have a potent offense, but they just can’t stop anybody. Buffalo’s defense allows 24.5 points per game, and yields a staggering 420 yards of offense per game, ranking 31st in the NFL. If the Redskins offense was ever poised for a breakout performance, it’s against this woeful Bills defensive unit. Expect healthy doses of both Ryan Torain and rookie Roy Helu against a defense that has major issues stopping the run. Cedric Benson put up 104 rushing yards in week 4 , Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy combined for 170 yards on just 16 carries , and Ahmad Bradshaw went for 104 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns in the Bills most recent loss. Memo to Kyle Shanahan…stay committed to the run against Buffalo, and you have a chance to grind out a win. Win the time of possession battle, and keep the explosive Buffalo offense sidelined as much as possible.
3) Buffalo… Great for wings, not so much for sacks – We’ve killed the Redskins for lack of a pass rush for most of the last decade, but the Bills have to be well on their way to setting a record for sack futility this season. Through 6 games, the Buffalo defense has piled up all of 4 sacks. Former Bills and Redskins DE Bruce Smith would rack up 4 sacks in one game in his heyday, and Bills fans must be yearning for a difference-maker at defensive end to help upgrade their anemic defense. John Beck, despite a revamped offensive line, should have plenty of time to deliver passes to Fred Davis and Jabar Gaffney, with little to no pass rush in his face throughout the game.