Coming into the season, the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins Monday Night Football matchup looked like one of the most intriguing games of the year. Of course, this is the NFL, and anything can happen in a long season. This is especially true of the 49ers and the Redskins thus far in 2013. The 49ers come into week 12 on a two-game losing streak that has many fans and critics wondering if they are who we thought they were, as the great Dennis Green would say. The Redskins also enter week 12 on a two game losing streak, and are a disappointing 3-7 after winning the NFC East last year. Something has to give, and one of these two struggling teams will be able to get back on track.
There are multiple headlines coming into this Monday night matchup that have stirred much controversy around the NFL over the past few days. Robert Griffin III was said to have blamed the last second interception against the Eagles this past week on heavy pressure and not having any open receivers to throw to. A comment like that will definitely not go over well with any teammate, and shows that RGIII isn't willing to accept the fact that he flat-out made a terrible throw. Instead of taking the criticism for a bad throw, he seems to be deflecting that criticism towards other players on his team. Veteran Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss spoke up about RGIII's comments, and said that RGIII needs to be more accountable and take the blame when he makes a bad play.
When a team leader won't own up to a poor performance, it can lead to problems in the locker room. Players start playing the blame game, and things can spiral out of control very quickly. RGIII needs to own up to the mistakes he's made, and show how a true leader should really act - otherwise the Redskins are going to struggle to win games. At this point, the Redskins would have to win out to even have a chance to make the playoffs in a tough NFC playoff race.
The 49ers, on the other hand, come into this game after a very controversial roughing the passer call cost them a road win against the New Orleans Saints. Ahmad Brooks hit Drew Brees up near the head area and knocked the ball right into Patrick Willis' hands, and if the play had stood it would have sealed a 49ers victory. Instead, a roughing the passer penalty was called, which gave the Saints a first down and eventually led to them winning the game.
The penalty on Brooks can be argued in either direction, and if no flag had been thrown on the play, people would have probably been asking why no call was made. Brooks ended up receiving a fine for his hit on Brees, which led to Ray Lewis and Tedy Bruschi offering to pay because they (like many fans) felt that a fine was completely unnecessary. Most defensive players would probably tend to agree with Lewis and Bruschi, but the ultimate decision comes from Roger Goodell, and for some reason, he felt the hit deserved a fine.
After a rough series of games, the 49ers are no longer considered one of the best teams in the NFL. It's very possible that they could miss the playoffs considering how poorly they've been playing, and no other NFC contenders look like slipping up. Winning the NFC West is no longer an option for the 49ers because of how dominant the Seattle Seahawks have been all year. Their main focus will now be securing the number five seed as a wild card team, and avoiding the Seahawks in the playoffs for as long as possible.
Another intriguing storyline coming into this matchup is the two second-year starting quarterbacks, coming off great rookie campaigns, are playing against each other for the first time in their young NFL careers. RGIII and Colin Kaepernick are both suffering from sophomore slumps, and their teams' records reflect that.
This Monday-night matchup is a huge game for two teams trying to stay alive in the playoff race. A loss for the Redskins at this point will just about end their hopes of making the playoffs. A 49ers loss wouldn't put them out of the race, but it would certainly hurt their chances.
The 49ers offense has a great opportunity to get back on track here, given how weak the Redskins defense is. Kaepernick continues to prove that he struggles against good pass defenses, but he's been dominant against weaker secondaries. The 49ers offense shouldn't have a problem scoring in this game, which is a refreshing thought after miserable offensive performances their last two games.
Defending Alfred Morris and RGIII in the running game will be a huge key for the 49ers defense against the Redskins offense. The Redskins rely heavily on their second-year running back who burst onto the scene in his rookie season. RGIII and the passing game rely heavily on the play-action pass to make big plays down the field to Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed. If the 49ers are able to slow down Morris and RGIII in the running game, they should be able to hold off the Redskins offense enough to enable a 49ers victory.
This is definitely a matchup that most NFL fans are looking forward to seeing, especially on the Monday Night Football stage. All the lights will be shining on these two young quarterbacks, and I expect the 49ers to win this game by a score of 31-21.Back to the San Francisco 49ers Newsfeed