WASHINGTON REDSKINS VS. BUFFALO BILLS
Sunday, 4 p.m., Rogers Centre; TV: Sportsnet, CITY-TV, Fox. Radio: Fan 590
FIVE THINGS TO LOOK FOR
1. Which team is a real playoff contender?
The 4-2 Bills and the 3-3 Redskins thought they were well on their way to proving such until both suffered tough losses in their most recent starts. Whoever gets the ‘L’ on Sunday has a long road ahead.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Overpaid or underpaid, the debate is about to begin now that the previously unheralded QB has signed his six-year $59-million US contract extension. This is a big game for Fitzpatrick. After a dynamic start to the season, he cost the team in its most recent start — a loss to the Giants — with a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions, each of which came on underthrown balls.
3. George Wilson
Before you give the Bills safety the business for his comments that the dome hasn’t felt like home, do two things: Acknowledge he is right and think about doing something to change the opinion. You should also know that Wilson is one of the most engaging Bills players, a veteran with a lot of pride in his work and one of the team’s leaders with 57 tackles and three interceptions. Good thing
no one told him one of Toronto’s nicknames is Hogtown.
4. Not for the Redskins’ star power, that’s for sure
Running back Tim Hightower and wideout Santana Moss each suffered serious injuries last week. And their starting quarterback is John Beck. (Who?) From a pure football standpoint, might this finally be the week the Bills defence can keep an opponent from piling up insane yardage?
5. How full will the Rogers Centre be?
Ripped this week by Wilson and ridiculed by hard-core Bills fans in the past, series organizers have managed to paper the house to make it look like a sellout the previous three years. Less than 24 hours before kickoff, good seats, as they say, were still available online. All kinds of ’em.
THE KEY MATCHUP
Bills RB Fred Jackson vs. Redskins defence
When last in action before the Bills’ bye week, Fast Freddie rambled for 121 yards on 16 carries in the Bills loss to the New York Giants.
When last seen in action, the Redskins run defence watched Philly’s LeSean McCoy carve them for 126, a big factor in the Eagles win.
So what gives? In their three wins, the Redskins have yielded an average of 71 on the ground, In their three losses, that average balloons to 164. If Jackson can get some traction to help set up the Bills’ spread passing attack, it could be a long afternoon for the visitors.
It’s AFC versus NFC so it’s not as if these two are regular opponents, but you have to go all the way back to 1992 to find the previous time the Redskins beat the Bills.
We’re guessing there isn’t a hard-core Bills fan anywhere that doesn’t recall what we were talking about.
The scene was Minneapolis where Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien and a big defensive effort lead Washington to a 37-24 win in Super Bowl XXVI. Bills running back Thurman Thomas, who couldn’t find his helmet and missed the first two plays, had 10 carries for 13 yards
The Bills have won all five regular-season meetings since but it’s been a while. In the previous meeting, Buffalo escaped with a 17-16 road win on Dec. 2, 2007.
DID YOU KNOW?
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is one of the brightest minds in the game (just ask him.) When he left the Denver Broncos 2009, he was considered a frontrunner for the Bills job when Dick Jauron was axed. Shanahan said “no” and Chan Gailey was hired ... Buffalo has given up more than 400 yards of net offence in five consecutive games ... Redskins QB John Beck once replaced former Argo Cleo Lemon as the starter for the Miami Dolphins ... Usually the bye week is a big break for a team, something the Bills are hoping for. However, teams off the break so far this season are a mere 3-9 ... The Redskins reportedly had to do some late scrambling to get the passport situation in order for many rookies and younger players.
HOME GAME, OF SORTS, FOR ATOGWE
Unless a knee injury keeps him out, it figures to be a memorable Sunday for Washington Redskins safety O.J. Atogwe.
The Windsor native and best Canadian-born player currently on an NFL roster, is listed as questionable, but is itching to play. The Redskins could use the former Pro Bowler, too.
With some 40 friends and family making the journey down the 401, Atogwe has even more motivation than usual to get well quick.
“I haven’t played a professional game in Canada ever in my life,” Atogwe told the Washington Post. “The last time I played in Toronto, I was about 13 years old. So to be able to play in front of a home crowd, that’d be nice.”