Skins Host Rams
After getting through a tough early schedule, the surprising Washington Redskins know the challenge for them now is to remain focused.
They'll try for a fifth straight win Sunday and look to avoid a letdown when they host the winless St. Louis Rams, who will play their first game under new coach Jim Haslett.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Redskins –13.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Redskins –13.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Under first-year coach Jim Zorn, Washington (4-1) faced three NFC East road matchups in the season's first five games. After losing to the Super Bowl champion New York Giants in Week 1, the Redskins have responded with four straight wins, including two in a row within their rugged division.
Washington went into Dallas two weeks ago and handed the Cowboys their only loss, 26-24, before an impressive comeback last Sunday at Philadelphia. The Redskins fell behind by two touchdowns before rallying for a 23-17 win.
"He's got an offense that's moving and doing things well," Washington defensive coordinator Greg Blache said about Zorn. "I think the guy's done everything that could be asked of a head coach. You wouldn't ask anymore from a veteran head coach, let alone a first-year head coach."
After the emotional wins over the rival Cowboys and Eagles, it may be hard for Washington to get motivated for a three-game stretch which includes St. Louis (0-4), Cleveland and Detroit - three teams that have combined for one win.
"It's a one-week season," right tackle Jon Jansen told the Redskins' official Web site. "We have to focus on the Rams and concentrate on what they're doing. We need to make sure that we don't take any teams for granted."
It would be easy to take St. Louis for granted. The Rams replaced coach Scott Linehan with Haslett after a fourth straight loss, 31-14 to Buffalo two weeks ago before their bye.
Haslett, who compiled a 45-51 record in six seasons coaching New Orleans from 2000-05, knows he has a lot of work to do.
"We'll try to get my personality into them as fast as we can, if that's the way you want to look at it," he said. "I do like guys who are tough and hard-nosed and love to play the game."
While the Rams are struggling in all facets of the game, the offense under first-year coordinator Al Saunders has been particularly stagnant. St. Louis has scored the fewest points in the NFL, but Marc Bulger has been re-installed as the starter at quarterback after Linehan replaced him with Trent Green for the Buffalo game.
Bulger was sacked 11 times in his first three games, and has thrown for only two touchdowns.
"Certainly, it didn't start out the way we wanted," Bulger said. "But guys haven't quit, and we honestly still think we do have a chance in the division. Believe it or not."
Before Saunders came to St. Louis, he served for two years as Washington's offensive coordinator. Zorn has in effect replaced him, taking the unusual step as a first-year head coach of also handling the play-calling responsibilities.
It has seemed to benefit quarterback Jason Campbell, who never truly thrived under Saunders. In a division in which the other starting quarterbacks have all played in the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl or both, Campbell has held his own. He has been steady and efficient, and has yet to throw an interception in 153 attempts this year.
"Anytime that you are winning in the NFL and especially in this division, people start to talk about you," Campbell said. "One thing we have to do as a team is continue to understand that we must improve, because now teams are going to put that X on our back. That means everybody is going to turn it up a notch more when they play us."
Washington running back Clinton Portis has posted back-to-back 100-yard efforts as he gets ready to face the porous St. Louis defense. The Rams are allowing 166 rushing yards per game - second-most in the NFC.
The Redskins have won six of their last eight meetings with the Rams.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
WASHINGTON is 6-3 against the spread versus ST LOUIS since 1992
WASHINGTON is 6-3 straight up against ST LOUIS since 1992
5 of 9 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
ST LOUIS is 1-0 against the spread versus WASHINGTON over the last 3 seasons
ST LOUIS is 1-0 straight up against WASHINGTON over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at WASHINGTON since 1992
WASHINGTON is 1-1 against the spread versus ST LOUIS since 1992
WASHINGTON is 1-1 straight up against ST LOUIS since 1992
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
[OT] Brandon Gorin IR - Shoulder - 08/18/08
[LB] Will Witherspoon injured last game, "?" - Shoulder - 09/30/08
[TE] Randy McMichael expected to miss at least 8 weeks - Ankle - 09/30/08
[RB] Antonio Pittman is downgraded to expected to miss four to six weeks - Leg - 09/22/08
[OL] Mark Setterstrom IR - Knee - 08/17/08
[CB] Tye Hill expected to miss at least 4 weeks - Knee - 09/30/08
[WR] Dane Looker injured last game, "?" - Concussion - 09/30/08
[QB] Marc Bulger has been named starting quarterback - None - 09/30/08
[WR] Drew Bennett expected to miss up to six weeks - Foot - 09/08/08
[CB] Justin King IR - Toe - 08/16/08
[HC] Scott Linehan has been fired, DC Jim Haslett has been named interim coach - None - 09/29/08
[OL] Stephon Heyer is downgraded to doubtful - Shoulder - 10/01/08
[DE] Jason Taylor missed last game %27?%27 - Calf - 09/28/08
[DE] Erasmus James missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 09/28/08
[LB] Phillip Daniels IR - Knee - 07/21/08
[CB] Shawn Springs is upgraded to probable - Calf - 10/01/08
[DB] Fred Smoot is "?". - Undisclosed - 09/30/08
[DE] Alex Buzbee IR - Achilles - 09/04/08
[WR] Malcolm Kelly missed last game %27?%27 - Ankle - 09/25/08
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