1. Will the Redskins starting line be OK this week?
Yes. Casey Rabach is probable and Todd Wade has been practicing, as has Pete Kendall. So they should be fine. Now, about their performance, that's another matter. We trust Rabach to be OK because, though he does pull, they can limit some of his lateral movement. But Wade is the one we worry about. If his groin acts up (a dry field will help), then it impacts the offense. The Cards bring pressure from that side. And Wade must do a better job helping open cutback lanes.
2. Will Kurt Warner play -- and be effective?
It's still uncertain if he'll play with the torn ligaments in his left elbow. But we have doubts about his effectiveness (but not his toughness). Warner struggles to hold onto the ball even with two good elbows; will this have an impact? A couple good shots is all it will take. And if Warner struggles, then it's up to Tim Rattay, in camp for not even two weeks.
3. Any other injury concerns?
For Washington, it's linebacker Marcus Washington, who is a game-time decision. But what helps is that Randall Godfrey is a solid backup and Chris Wilson has started to apply some pressure as a rush end. They would miss Washington no doubt, but they can survive his absence.
4. Will Shawn Springs play?
We still don't know, but we do know he'll play if he shows up in time and says he wants to. The Redskins obviously can use him in this game considering Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are a formidable tandem. However, it's hard to know what Springs' mental state would be. Our guess: very strong. As difficult a time as this is for him because of his father, Springs would probably be doubly locked in on defense. He would not play a full-time role, but he would help. Springs obviously has more important things to worry about, but we're confident in him and his ability that if he feels like he can play, that he would help.
5. What's different about the Cardinals?
Their pass protection. The Cards have been awful in recent years along the line, evidenced by the lack of running success and quarterbacks who have taken a pounding. But they've only allowed seven sacks in 207 passing attempts this season. If Warner plays and has protection -- and is healthy -- then he can be dangerous.
6. What makes this offense difficult?
The presence of back Edgerrin James, who is off to a solid start with 522 yards and four touchdowns. With Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm, the Cards are committed to the ground. They will try to establish the run against Washington. Yes, the wideouts are dangerous, but if the Cards have success running the ball, then an extra defender will be moved up and .... Well, you know what happens next.
7. What is the concern with Arizona's defense?
The Cards' pass rush with end/linebacker Bertrand Berry and end/tackle Darnell Docketty, who has a team-best six sacks. They love coming over the opponent's right side, which will make this a difficult matchup for Washington. Wade must be able to handle Berry and we're not confident that he can, so don't be surprised if they use Mike Sellers or Todd Yoder in this role an awful lot. One misconception last week was that Chris Cooley had to stay in more to block after the line was hit by injuries. But Cooley still went out a decent amount.
8. Where should Washington attack?
Up the gut and on the ground. The Redskins should be able to use a good power game this weekend; it's where Arizona has been weakest. The Cards secondary has one good player in Adrian Wilson, but that's about it. They can be tested at the corners. But the Cards allow 4.4 yards per carry. There's no secret what Washington should do. Clinton Portis said he's getting his game legs back. At some point, he'll put up big numbers. This is the week.
9. Who will have a big game?
OK, it's easy to say this but I'm going to anyway: Santana Moss. Maybe this is my heart talking -- Moss is a favorite because of how he plays and how he is in the locker room. But if he's healthy -- and that's my concern -- then he's the sort who rebounds from a tough game with a big one. That's what competitors do. And you don't get to Moss' stature without having that sort of competitiveness in you; not at 5-foot-9. Plus Cards corner Rod Hood is OK at best.
10. Who will win?
The Cards are in better shape than they've probably been in a while because of what appears to be good coaching. They've been competitive on the road, with one win and two three-point defeats. But we don't think they're good enough to pull a road upset in Washington. We also think Rattay will play more than Warner so that plays into the thinking. Regardless, we'd still like Washington. Redskins 24, Cards 9.
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