Nov 26, 2005, 1:19 AM EST
These aren’t the ’85 Bears, people.
They’re not even the ’05 Colts.
No doubt the Redskins face a very tough task on Sunday in facing the 6-4 San Diego Chargers at FedEx Field. But from listening to people talk and reading the message boards, you’d get the feeling that the typical Redskin fan thinks that he has a better chance of catching Jennifer Aniston on the rebound from Brad Pitt than the Redskins do of winning this game.
Such thinking goes to show you just how pervasive and overpowering the “what have you done lately” mentality is when people look at the NFL. Two and a half weeks ago the Chargers had just won to pull themselves up to .500 at 4-4. Washington had just beaten Philly to move to 5-3 and the playoff talk flowed freely in the Redskins locker room. Since then, the Chargers have gone to the Meadowlands, where the Jets had the ball inside the San Diego 10 with a chance to pull out a win in the waning moments before falling, and they have pummeled the Buffalo Bills, a team without a quarterback. For their part, the Redskins lost (according to the zebras anyway) a tough game on the road to a 7-3 Tampa Bay team and then led for most of the game against Oakland before losing.
These events have led to a view of the Chargers that is somewhat inflated and a view of the Redskins that is much more bleak than their body of work this season would suggest. Washington has won five games, San Diego has won six. The Redskins’ five victims have a combined record of 28-23 while the six teams the Chargers have beaten are 29-31. On the other side of the ledger, all of San Diego’s losses have come at the hands of teams with winning records while Washington’s loss to Oakland was the only one that wasn’t a “quality” loss.
The other factor in play that has made the Chargers not just the smart money pick but the choice of cash of all IQ’s is the Marty factor. This line of thinking says that Marty Schottenheimer will have his team primed to play so that he can stick it to his old employer just like Norv did last week. I’ve underestimated the psychological edge on occasion so far this year (see my prediction on the Giants game in the wake of owner Wellington Mara’s death as Exhibit A), but I don’t see this being a big edge for two reasons. First, Schottenheimer has remained on friendly terms with Dan Snyder and the rest of the organization. Second, Joe Gibbs is likely to have his troops quite well prepared, their motivation being survival in the competition for playoff spots.
The fallout of the past two weeks and, presumably, the Marty factor, has led to the Chargers being a three-point road favorite. I don’t follow such things very closely, but I would guess that, over the course of an NFL season you will find very few instances of a team being a home dog to a team that has won just one more game.
And, like most home dogs under most circumstances, I expect the Redskins to cover but not win. LaDanian Tomlinson won’t pile up a lot of yards on the ground but will be effective catching Drew Brees’ passes out of the backfield. Santana Moss should get untracked but Clinton Portis won’t. San Diego will get an early lead and hold off Washington at the end.
Chargers 23, Redskins 21
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