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Posted at 06:08 PM ET, 09/16/2011

Keys to the Game: No big plays

The key to this game is easier said than done: Don’t allow the big play on defense. Last week the Redskins’ defense gave up too many big plays to the Giants. New York wide receiver Hakeem Nicks is a talent, but he’s no Larry Fitzgerald, the superstar wideout for the Arizona Cardinals.

Any big plays this week will be costly for the Redskins, so they must make sure to guard against mental letdowns, especially in coverage.

The Redskins will need to force the Cardinals to win without Fitzgerald. Take him out of the equation as much as possible, and running back Beanie Wells will have to be the guy who picks up the slack. Now if he has success running the ball , that’s trouble for the Redskins, whose defense will have to be more aggressive in trying to stop him. That could create opportunities for the big play downfield.

I’m sure Redskins’ Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett will work to align safety Oshiomogho Atogwe on Fitzgerald’s side, over the top of him. He may even assign DeAngelo Hall the responsibility for traveling with Fitzgerald. In my mind, this would make the most sense matchup-wise, because even if Reed Doughty plays a pass perfectly, he may not have enough athletic ability to keep Fitzgerald from either making the play over the top of him or out running him to the ball.

In all fairness to Doughty, it’s possible the same thing could happen to Atogwe and Hall, but at least they’d have proven playmakers on Fitzgerald. Atogwe is very familiar with Fitzgerald and the Cards; he played against them twice a year when he was in St. Louis.

Arizona has other good receivers, but none with the big play ability of Fitzgerald.

Another way to help prevent QB Kevin Kolb from hitting Fitzgerald is, obviously, to put pressure on Kolb. The Redskins did a real good job of getting after Eli Manning last week and he was unable to find a rhythm.

Rookies Ryan Kerrigan and Chris Neild pushed the pocket and had tremendous success getting to the QB — especially Neild. If the front 7, along with some mixed secondary pressure, can get to Kolb, it will make things very difficult for him.

Putting the same pressure on Kevin Kolb this week should play right into the Redskins hands, which will put them in great shape to win another game at home.

The Cardinals aren’t an overly impressive team; in fact they should have lost to Carolina last week. Their only chance in this game is if Kolb can pass on the Redskins’ secondary.

I don’t think either team will be able to consistently run the ball. But Redskins’ QB Rex Grossman should have another good week throwing it, and with solid defense this should be another win. Pick: Redskins

By  |  06:08 PM ET, 09/16/2011

 
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