Lead Pipe Cinch

This space is not generally given to predictions, bold or otherwise. The focus is on analysis of what's happened in the Washington Redskins' past, either from the day before or decades ago. But the time has come to step aside from the usual format and take a stand on things yet to come.

The Washington Redskins will beat the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in the Georgia Dome and they will beat them soundly.

There are two reasons why it is necessary to make this prediction. First, there are many logical reasons to forecast that the Skins will easily handle the Vick-less Falcons--more on that in a minute. Second, hardly anyone else out there is making the right call on this game.

Eight "experts" on ESPN.com made a straight-up pick on this game, seven of them took the Falcons. On CBS Sportsline, there were five more "experts" and four of them took Atlanta minus three.

Not only that, but everyone you hear on the radio from Mike Golic to the tout on your local station is taking Atlanta. On the Redskins Review radio program in Richmond, Virginia last night, two out of the three hosts of the show said the Falcons would win (your scribe here being the lone exception).

The trend continued on HBO when three of the four making predictions on Inside the NFL went with the Falcons. Reports are not yet in from local TV stations around the country that make NFL picks by means of interpreting the body language of yaks at the nearby zoo or by getting computer geeks to run the numbers, or by drawing teams out of a plain paper bag. The guess here is, though, that the yaks, hacks, and sacks will line up solidly behind the Falcons.

So, it's time for someone out here to put some sense into all of this and that somebody is right here. Washington will beat the Falcons handily.

Why will the Redskins win easily?

1) Atlanta wide receiver Brian Finneran broke his hand last week against the Cowboys. That makes a starter of Quentin McCord, who has a total of 16 NFL career catches. That's 16 more than Jimmy Farris, now the third wideout, has in his career. Peerless Price, who was a number two receiver in Buffalo last year, had only two catches in Dallas last week. He complained about being double teamed by the Cowboys; just wait until he sees what it's like to have Champ Bailey lock on to him. Champ will meet Peerless when Price gets out of his car in the Georgia Dome parking lot and won't leave his side until the final gun.

2) Both of Atlanta's starting safeties, Cory Hall and Keion Carpenter, are out for Sunday's game. Washington's big asset on offense is speed. Since Atlanta's last line of defense against the long play is second rate, that virtually guarantees that Laveranues Coles, Trung Canidate, Chad Morton, or maybe even Patrick Johnson or Cliff Russell will make a number of big plays on Sunday.

3) The Falcons are without their best player, Michael Vick. You can get by with such a star being out against the Cowboys, a bad team. It's a different story against the Redskins, a decent team.

4) That bad team, Dallas, ran for 149 yards against the Falcons. Atlanta countered with just 98 yards rushing. The Redskins will outgain the Falcons on the ground by a margin of two to one.

5) Falcons quarterback Doug Johnson won his start against the Giants last season when Vick was out with an injury and won again as the fill in last week. There is now some tape on this marginally talented QB and his tendencies and weaknesses are becoming known. Certainly, he's not a stranger to Steve Spurrier, his college coach. Bet that the Ballcoach is spending some time with the defensive staff this week, giving them the lowdown on how to read the player he recruited.

Washington 28, Atlanta 10


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