Redskins vs. Browns NFL Week 15 Preview

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins are seeking their fifth consecutive victory in an effort to keep their playoff aspirations alive. The Redskins will travel to Cleveland Browns’ Stadium to face the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, December 16th.  Kickoff is scheduled for 1pm.

Washington won its fourth consecutive game in dramatic fashion, a 31-28 Week 14 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens. With the Redskins’ trailing by eight points late in the game, Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III was removed from the game after suffering a right knee injury while running out of the pocket.  Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins marched the Redskins’ offense downfield, throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon. Cousins then tied the game with a successful run from scrimmage for the two point conversion.

Adding to the suspense was another rookie, Redskins’ cornerback Richard Crawford, who returned a punt 64 yards in the overtime session. Crawford’s return set up placekicker Kai Forbath’s game winning 34 yard field goal, which extended Washington’s current winning streak to four games.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Washington isn’t the only team on a winning streak.  The Browns didn’t need such dramatics to emerge victorious in Week 14. They are coming off a 30-7 home victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. A pair of rookies, running back Trent Richardson, and wide receiver Travis Benjamin, supplied most of the scoring for Cleveland. Richardson tallied two short touchdown runs, while Benjamin provided the biggest play of the day with a 93 yard punt return for a touchdown. After that, the Browns never looked back.

Washington’s main focus this week has been the status of Griffin III. While he was able to participate in practice on Wednesday, his status for Sunday’s game still remains uncertain. If Griffin III can’t play, fellow rookie Cousins will get the start.  While Cousins has shown signs of efficiency in his brief career, the Redskins’ fortunes in 2012 rely on Griffin III being healthy. If the man nicknamed “RG3” is healthy, Washington’s chances for victory increase dramatically.

While not yet eliminated from playoff contention, Cleveland would need a lot of help with a 5-8 record. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has had a much less stellar start to his career than Griffin III. Weeden has thrown for 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.  Richardson anchors the Browns’ running game, with 869 yards and a club rookie record nine touchdowns. In addition to having dangerous return man Josh Cribbs, wide receiver Josh Gordon has become the Browns’ leading receiver with 42 receptions. Gordon is also averaging 17 yards per reception, which dictates that the Washington secondary must pay particular attention to the young, unheralded Gordon.

Prediction:  This is a game of two rebuilding franchises striving for respect. Each team has young, hungry players looking to make a name for themselves in the NFL.  However, the x factor is Griffin III. If he is healthy enough to play Sunday, he will make the difference in Washington getting their fifth consecutive victory.

Final score: Redskins 27, Browns 20.


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