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    • DATE: December 3, 2013
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Redskins-Falcons: 4 Keys To The Game

Posted Dec 13, 2013

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon's Redskins-Falcons battle at the Georgia Dome.

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon's Redskins-Falcons battle at the Georgia Dome.

“Redskins-Falcons: 4 Keys To The Game” is presented by Papa John’s.

Every Monday, fans can order a large cheese pizza for only $9.99, plus for each touchdown that the Redskins score, fans get one free topping. And with a Redskins victory, fans get double the toppings.


CAPTAIN THE SHIP, KIRK

The keys to the final three games of the season are officially hanging in the locker of Washington Redskins No. 12.

Kirk Cousins is the man for the Shanahan plan for the remainder of the season, a situation that has been analyzed, dissected, rearranged in various ways and reheated for your viewing pleasure.

None of that matters on gameday.

The Redskins need a spark from the offense and that starts with the quarterback position. This is a team that has fallen from a high water mark of fourth in total offense (yards) this season to ninth going into Week 15.

More importantly, the scoring offense has fallen from top-10 to 23rd, a slide that has increased precipitously during the five-game losing streak.

This is not a quarterback competition, but it is a rare opportunity for Kirk Cousins to show the Redskins and every other team in the league what he can do. He has the mindset to be motivated by this situation and Redskins fans should see the best that he has to offer.

GET IT BEFORE IT'S GONZO

The Redskins have had the pleasure of defending some of the top offensive playmakers in the game this season, from Dez Bryant to Calvin Johnson, LeSean McCoy to Adrian Peterson.

Each of these players has had varying degrees of success, but few have had the type of historical and recent success that tight end Tony Gonzalez has had vs. the Redskins.

For his career, the surefire Hall Of Famer is 4-0 with 25 receptions for 265 yards and three touchdowns. He was the difference between a Redskins victory and eventual defeat a season ago, catching 13 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, all game highs.

The problem for the Redskins is that they do not have a linebacker capable of covering him or a defensive back big enough to matchup. At 6-5, 251 pounds, he is an intimidating physical specimen, using his basketball background to gain a step and catch anything in his vicinity.

Playing in the Redskins' favor is the fact that he is nursing a toe injury that has limited his agility and explosion down the stretch this season.

The Redskins need to put Perry Riley, Brandon Meriweather and whoever else might be capable of sticking with him stride for stride. If not, he could easily make the difference in this game as well.

AMPLIFY ALF

The Redskins have battled with the Philadelphia Eagles for most of the season to see who can boast the NFL's top rushing attack. The Redskins are led in rushing by sophomore stud Alfred Morris, but he has not carried the ball 20 times in a game in a month and has not crossed the century mark since Week 10.

Much of that has been dictated by the situation of the game, as the Redskins have consistently fallen behind in the second half, relegating him to pass protection and riding the bench.

However, with fullback Darrel Young back in the lineup along with both top blocking tight ends Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul, the Redskins really have no more excuses. Morris has carried the ball just 37 times in the last three weeks, but could get that workload on Sunday.

The Falcons come in with the 30th ranked run defense in the NFL. The Redskins need to exploit that, and without as much of a dual threat at quarterback, that responsibility will likely fall on No. 46's shoulders.

Alfred Morris is capable of being a three-down back and he should be well-rested. It would be great to see the Redskins get back to what they do best and run the football down the opponent's throat.

THINGS COULD GET HARRY (DOUGLAS)

While Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White are certainly the well-known offensive threats, receiver Harry Douglas has put together a superb season in place of the team's starting receivers.

Douglas enters Week 15 with a team-leading 68 receptions for 926 yards and two touchdowns. Just like the Redskins, the Falcons have been able to pile up yards this season without putting the ball in the hands of their playmakers in the red zone.

Last year against the Redskins, Douglas had two receptions for 34 yards, showing that he has big play ability. This year he will be a feature receiver and should see a lot of DeAngelo Hall if they don't want him to crack 1,000 yards this week.

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