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The Redskins began 2017 hoping to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1991-92, needing a win on New Year’s Day over the New York Giants to make the postseason.  Flash-forward 364 days and the Burgundy and Gold wrapped up a second straight non-playoff year by losing to the Giants on New Year’s Eve.  Instead of a 19-10 loss with thoughts of what could have been, it’s an 18-10 defeat with the grim realization of what isn’t.  Momentum in the NFL is a fickle beast…and the Skins have gone from 9-7 to 8-7-1 to 7-9.  While the 24-23-1 mark over the last three seasons is their best since 1999-2001’s 26-22 (the new glory years), one wonders what’s next.  As in another three months of the Kirk Cousins saga sucking all of the energy and optimism out of the room.  Meanwhile, there’s a team with needs that need to be addressed…but we won’t be watching because the dance with #8 will likely be played out as it has been the last two springs.

Here We Go Again- was anyone shocked that the Skins laid an egg against the Giants in week 17?  Last year’s loss is still with many…but 2013 gave us another clunker that set the NFL back 30 years.  Perhaps they should schedule the Cowboys or the Eagles to wrap up the season…

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One did not save his best for last in 2017, throwing for 158 yards and no touchdowns.  He also threw three interceptions and was sacked three times.  A rough end to a third straight 4,000-yard season, despite losing his top two receivers to free agency and then his top target Jordan Reed to injury mid-season.  His new #1 Terrelle Pryor was as bad a signing as one thought it would be.  There’s been no running game of note to keep defenses honest.  And in some circles the 2017 season will be a referendum on Cousins.  Good luck and godspeed, my boy.  Star Trek Episode Equivalent:  “The Squire of Gothos”, where the crew meet a strange being and we’re marking time until the episode ends.  The original series lasted three seasons- will we get a fourth installment of Captain Kirk commanding the USS Burgundy and Gold?  Or will we be forced to watch Kirk on a different show with Adrian Zmed and Heather Locklear?

Running In Place- the Skins were held to 61 yards rushing…or 14 fewer yards than Orleans Darkwa gained for the Giants on the second play from scrimmage.  Kapri Bibbs had a 16-yard run to highlight his 47-yard outburst.  The absence of a ground game counterpunch once again undercuts a team that plays meaningful games in the northeast where it’s cold.

Receiving Corps- Bibbs led the team in receiving as well with 8 catches for 53 yards…so he reached the century mark in a roundabout way.  Josh Doctson ended his first full season with 4 grabs for 37 yards.  His season totals are comparable to Pierre Garcon, until you realize the veteran missed half of the season.  Jamison Crowder had 3 more receptions to finish atop the team with 66 catches, or one fewer than last year.  If you’re Kirk, do you want to stay and throw to these guys again next fall?

Third and Unlucky- the Skins converted just 1-of-13 money downs.  Cousins completed 4 of 11 passes for 2 conversions while getting sacked once.  Bibbs was stuffed for no gain on a 3rd and 1 in the team’s lone running play on third down.  The top option?  Crowder nets the lone conversion while making two receptions on four targets.  Yardage breakdown:  0-for-1 on third and short, 1-for-3 on third and manageable, 0-for-9 on third and long.  As has been the case for most of the season, the majority of third down plays were needing 7+ yards to convert.  Beyond not ideal.

Zach Attack II- Zach Vigil led the team with 16 tackles…giving the team confidence for 2018.  I’m hoping for a 3-4 defense that features the two Zachs next fall, just to be able to empty all of my “Saved by the Bell” observations (who’s ready to hum a couple of bas of “Friends Forever”?).  Meanwhile, Preston Smith’s interception clinches the best finishing haul by a Preston since my Uncle Chris’ last fishing trip to Colombia.

Flying Flags- only four infractions on the final day, although I wouldn’t be surprised if the officials were swallowing their whistles to get out of the cold in a draft-order game.  Two on the offense (delay of game and a clip) and two on the defense (illegal hands and a trip).  The clip and delay were the two costly ones–turning what would have been a 2nd & 9 form the Giants 42 into a 1st & 30 on the Skins 36.  Not a ton of 1st & 30 plays in the book.

Special Situations- Jamison Crowder’s 29-yard punt return led to the final points of the season for the Skins…unfortunately that spark doesn’t make up for the fumbles this fall.  Dustin Hopkins made a 49-yard field goal while missing from 47 (his only miss inside 50 this season) to finish 14-of-17 in 2017.  Tress Way?  A 47.3 yard average on nine punts…allowing him to finish 13th in gross punting average.  Unfortunately the punt coverage team was less than awesome, so Hopkins ranks 28th in the NFL in net yardage.  Where’s Danny Smith when you need him?

Dissecting the Division- the Eagles despite losing to Dallas have home field advantage in the NFC thanks to boasting a better common opponents mark than #2 seed Minnesota.  Dallas (9-7) takes ninth in the conference after losing NFC record and head-to-head tiebreakers to Detroit and Seattle.  The Redskins (7-9) finish 12th in the conference because Green Bay boasted a better record against common foes.  The Giants (3-13) despite winning lock down the #2 draft pick in 2018.  Lawrence Taylor isn’t available.

Elimination Island- the Ravens’ defeat to Cincinnati blew the purple and black out of the water.  It also allowed Buffalo in the back door for the first time this century.  Despite the Los Angeles Chargers’ win over the Bills in the regular season, Tennessee’s victory over Jacksonville keeps LA from having two playoff teams for the first time since 1985.  Seattle was locked out of the NFC Playoffs when Atlanta beat Carolina.

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The week between Christmas and New Year’s is an odd one;  it’s almost as though time is suspended because most are off at some point in time during the week.  Does it really matter which day it is?  You could also say the same about the Redskins’ 27-11 rout of Denver.  Does a late December victory over a last place team matter?  Yes it does.  Because .500 remains a possibility…and the players fighting for jobs in 2018 have another game of tape that highlights their upside instead of call out their deficiencies.

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns while tossing one interception and taking one sack.  Kirk stretched the field with TD strikes of 31 and 48 yards while working with a receiving corps that resembles a smokey big bite from 7-11.  If this was his final home game at FedEx Field, then good luck and godspeed to #8.  Episode Equivalent:  “What are Little Girls Made Of?”- where Nurse Chapel meets an ex, Kirk is replicated into an android but plants the necessary red flag for Spock to be suspicious.

Running its Course- Samaje Perine gained 53 yards on 17 carries…his fourth straight week of 10+ attempts resulting in less than 60 yards.  Whether or not Cousins comes back in 2018, the Redskins need a hammer on the ground.  I have the full confidence they won’t draft or sign one.

Give it up to Grant- I’ve often called Ryan Grant “Mr. August”, due to his ability to shine in the preseason before becoming anonymous.  Well he could be angling for “Mr. December”, as he led the team with 4 catches Sunday.  Grant’s tallied 12 grabs since Thanksgiving and has posted 43 receptions for 550 yards this fall– or more than his combined total from the three previous years.

Third and…hey, it’s the holidays- the Skins converted 5 of 13 money downs with Cousins completing 4 of 10 passes for four conversions while scrambling to the marker for the fifth.  He also fumbled (recovered) on one play.  Samaje Perine wasn’t as lucky, losing his fumble on the lone third down rushing attempt.  Ryan Grant was the top target (thrown to three times for one catch and conversion) while Vernon Davis was the most productive (moved the chains twice on two passes thrown to).  Yardage breakdown:  1-for-1 on short-yardage, 3-for-5 on manageable (4 to 6 yards needed) and 1-for-7 on third and long.

Saved by the Zach II- the defense kept the Broncos out of the endzone for most of the day, while holding the visitors to 5 of 17 on third down.  Zach was huge once again–and I’m referring to Zach Vigil instead of Zach Brown.  Fourteen tackles (he’s averaging over 10 stops per game in December) to lead the team.  In Bell terms, it’s as if Mark-Paul Gosselaar was replaced during the Tori episodes by Zach’s cousin and the scriptwriters were too lazy to rename the character.  Elsewhere, Preston Smith notches two sacks to build off the previous week (interception and a fumble recovery) turning this into the best stretch by a Preston since I boarded the Enchantment of the Seas for a five night cruise in April 2006.

Flying Flags- six penalties for 35 yards.  Three on the offense (two false starts and an unnecessary roughness) plus two on the defense (delay of game and a hold) while the other came on special teams (more unnecessary roughness).  Arie Kouandjio was flagged twice (roughness/false start) while Bashaud Breeland’s hold gives the cornerback a near-lock on most penalized Redskin (8 flags) of 2017.  False starts (18) remain the big infraction, with offensive holding (16) checking in at #2.  Both false starts came on third and long–setting up longer fields and shrinking the playbook.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia (13-2) wraps up home field advantage with their underwhelming victory over Oakland.  Dallas (8-7) is out of the playoff hunt after their home loss to Seattle but their sweep over the Redskins mean they have second place secured.  The Skins are in 11th place of the NFC, pretty much where they’ve been all season.  The New York Giants (2-13) broke a team record for losses in a season, and have wrapped up last place in the conference while in line for the second overall pick in the 2018 Draft.

Conference Calls and Division of Depression- with nothing but division games on the slate for week 17, the book is closed.  The NFC won 41 of 64 interconference games this year.  That’s not a victory, nor a mandate.  It’s Reagan over Mondale territory.  The only AFC Division to finish with a composite winning record was the East (31-29), and the best NFC quartet this year was the South (35-25).  The AFC South somehow finished with a worst record at 25-35…and that’s with Cleveland’s 0-15 factored into the AFC North’s final grade.

Elimination Island- the Cowboys weren’t the only team to say goodbye to playoff hopes. Detroit, Miami and Oakland were also bounced from postseason consideration.

They don’t give out banners for finishing 8-8.  And they don’t even have last year’s “first place schedule” to hide behind…although the first ten games were a brutal gauntlet.  And the Redskins are going to finish out of contention for the fourteenth time in eighteen years this century.  But coach Jay Gruden’s team can salvage some dignity by finishing .500- it would give them a non-losing record for a third straight year (longest streak since…1999-2001).  And it would give the team a 25-22-1 mark over his last three seasons.  So even though Sunday’s 20-15 win over Arizona only affected the Cardinals’ playoff hopes, it was necessary for the Skins to end their slide and get in position to be in position to scrape their way back to .500.  With last-place Denver and last-place New York on the horizon, the avenue to 8-8 is there.

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One completed 18 of 26 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns while getting sacked just once.  A passer rating over 100 for the sixth time this year.  No fumbles were lost…but the offense only had two solid drives on the day.  Thank goodness the Cardinals were even more offensively challenged.  Episode Equivalent:  “Operation Annihilate!”- where flying amoebas attack the landing party and one attaches itself to Spock.

Running in Reverse- one of the reasons why this year pales compared to the last two for Cousins production-wise.  Thirty-one yards on 20 carries…with Samaje Perine (14 carries for 37 yards) being held to under 50 yards for the third straight week despite being the main ball-carrier.  Will this be addressed in the offseason with a band-aid or a big-time prospect?

Chilly Receptions- Jamison Crowder led the way with 5 catches for 55 yards and a touchdown, giving him 59 for 717 on the season.  Great for a #3 option.  Which sadly this year he is not.  The duo of Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have combined for 640 yards on 49 catches–and even though Pryor has been on the shelf for a while this is still not good.

Third Downers- how about 1-for-9?  Cousins completed 3-of-6 passes for the lone conversion (to Crowder his top option with three targets and two catches), while getting sacked once and scrambling short of the marker once. Their lone run came on a 3rd & 8.  Yardage Breakdown:  1-for-5 on third and medium and 0-for-4 on third and long (7+ yards needed.  Meaning yes, they didn’t face a third and short.  One of the many reasons why this team is fighting for 8-8 and not a playoff berth.

Zach Rules- okay, so Zach Brown didn’t play.  But Zach Virgil did the Bayside faithful proud with 8 tackles which tied for the team lead.  More importantly, the defense kept the Cardinals out of the end zone and got off of the field on 15 of 19 third downs.  Preston Smith notched a fumble recovery which set up the Skins’ first TD and an interception in the red zone.  Easily the best Sunday for a Preston since I crushed 20 wings (13 drums and 7 flats) at the Rhino circa 2006.

Kicking Game and Screaming- tough to get past the missed kickoff in the second half.  Not acceptable.  Still Tress Way averaged over 53 yards per punt and Dustin Hopkins made both field goals (long of 32 yards).  So there’s that.

Flying Flags- seven penalties for 82 yards.  Three on offense (two false starts and a hold), three on defense (pair of PI’s and an unsportsmanlike conduct) and a special teams infraction (leveraging).  Holds and false starts (16) are now the most common offensive fouls, while pass interference (7) is the most common defensive whistle.  Most costly?  a while Josh Norman’s PI in the second quarter set up a Cardinals field goal, Kendall Fuller’s PI with under a minute left put the ball on the Washington 21…and gave Arizona another chance to steal a victory in Landover.

Dissecting the Division-  Philadelphia (12-2) has locked up a first round bye and needs just a Vikings loss to wrap up home field in the NFC.  Dallas (8-6) is assured of second place in the division thanks to their win over Oakland and is currently in ninth place of the conference–meaning they need to leapfrog three teams to make the playoffs.  Two wins plus 0-2 finishes from two of the three NFC South contenders (Atlanta-Carolina-New Orleans) plus Detroit and Seattle each losing once will do the trick.   The Redskins (6-8) are assured of third place, meaning that for the first time since 2001-03 they won’t finish in last for three straight seasons.  The New York Giants can still finish out of the NFC cellar by winning two straight and Chicago wrapping up their year with two more defeats.

Conference Call plus the Mouth of the South-  the NFC leads the AFC 36-22 with six games remaining–and it isn’t even that close.  The NFC South owns the best mark at 33-23 while the AFC North brings up the rear at 23-33 (Browns are responsible for 14 of those losses).  The NFC East is 28-28…tied for fifth with the NFC West.

Elimination Island- Green Bay was bounced from contention with their loss to Carolina plus Atlanta’s win on Monday night.  Other hopes terminated along with Arizona’s (thanks to their loss to the Redskins):  Green Bay and Cincinnati.  Tennessee’s loss to San Francisco keeps Miami and Oakland hanging by a thread.

Well…at least we’re no longer dealing with hypotheticals.  The 30-13 defeat at the Los Angeles Clippers–I mean Chargers–drops the Redskins to 5-8 and out of contention thanks to having a worse conference record than Atlanta.  The 2018 season sort of begins this week with three auditions before we mercifully put the 2017 campaign out of its misery.  Who’s ready for OTA’s?

Captain Kirk-the Franchise Tagged One completed 15 of 27 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown with one interception while getting sacked twice.  The offense posted a season-low nine first downs and 201 total yards.  It wasn’t pretty.  Star Trek Episode Equivalent:  “And the Children Shall Lead” featured attorney Melvin Belli and little else.

Running Wrong- the ground game was held to 65 yards on 21 carries-the seventh time in nine games since the bye where the team failed to reach the century mark.  Samaje Perine after consecutive 100-yard games has been held to 83 yards on 29 carries.  But barring a monster finish from Kirk Cousins, Perine is going to lead the team in rushing for the season.

Receiving Core Values- Josh Docston and Jamison Crowder each caught three passes for 34 yards.  Not a lot of there there.  Meanwhile, DeSean Jackson caught 4 passes for 41 yards in Tampa Bay.

Third and Done- the Skins converted 2 of 12 money downs en route to defeat…and failed to move the chains on all six third downs after halftime.  Cousins completed 3 of 9 passes for 2 conversions while getting sacked once and missing the marker on a scramble.  Perine was stuffed on a 3rd & 2 in the first quarter.  Josh Doctson was the #1 option with one conversion/catch of four targets.  Yardage breakdown:  0-for-4 on short-yardage, 1-for-4 on 3rd & 4-6 yards needed, 1-for-3 on long-yardage.

D earns an F- for the second straight week, fourth time in five games and seventh time since the bye week the Skins allow 30+ points.  LA scored the first five times the had the ball…and on the sixth were stopped inside the five as time expired.  Explosive plays coughed up include 51 and 75-yard completions while the Chargers also tallied a 33-yard run.  Deshazor Everett tallied 11 tackles and then complained to the press about how lax practices have been. Zach Brown made ten stops but is banged up heading into the final weeks of the season.  Third down?  The Chargers converted 4-of-6 on short-yardage, 1-for-3 on 3rd & 4-6, and 0-for-5 on long-yardage.

Special Situations- Tress Way averaged 43.4 yards per punt–with three in the 20 and no touchbacks.  Nick Rose missed one of his two extra points.  Bashaud Breeland had a 35-yard kickoff return.  The punt coverage team was ripped for 22 and 27-yard scampers by Travis Benjamin.

Flying Flags- just four infractions for 43 yards, with three of the four coming against the defense and the other on special teams.  What–no holds or false starts?  Who are these people?!?  The ones that hurt came in the first quarter on the Charger’s first touchdown drive–an unnecessary roughness against Ryan Anderson and facemask against Josh Norman combined for 25 of the 92 yards on the possession.  That put the Chargers up 10-0 and the Skins wouldn’t get closer than a touchdown for the rest of the day.  Bashaud Breeland remains the most guilty party (7 penalties for 66 yards).

Dissecting the Division-  Philadelphia (11-2) clinches its first NFC East title since 2013 lost quarterback Carson Wentz to a torn ACL.  Their tenuous hold on the #1 seed will have Nick Foles at the controls.  Dallas (7-6) is one win or one Redskins loss away from clinching second place…and stands in 10th place of the NFC because they lose tiebreakers to Detroit and Green Bay.  The pokes also have to leapfrog Seattle and Atlanta to make the postseason–not impossible but not completely likely.  The Skins are 12th in the conference and can still slip into last place of the division with three losses plus three wins by the Giants.  The New York Giants at 2-11 are in 16th place of the conference and one week after scoring 17 points in a loss at Oakland were held to 10 points in a loss at home to Dallas.  Thank goodness Eli is back in the lineup.

Conference Call– the NFC owns a 32-22 edge with two weeks of interconference play remaining and the Bengals/Browns playing three of those games.  One feels confident for the old guard this fall.  The best division remains the NFC South that is a combined 30-22 with three potential playoff teams.  The AFC North (23-29) is the worst, although the AFC West and South are both 24-28.  The NFC East?  How about a 5th best 25-27?

Elimination Island- Indianapolis, Tampa Bay and Denver joined the Redskins and others Sunday…while Houston was a late add after figuring tiebreakers between multiple 7-9 teams.  Pray it doesn’t come to that… 

Just when you thought this year would blow up (after the opening day sleepwalk loss to Philadelphia) or catch fire (after the dominant win over Oakland), the Redskins are back in familiar territory.  Yes, they’re 5-6 for the sixth time in 13 years.  But you know what?  Four of those years saw the Skins somehow surge into the playoffs-with 2010 being the outlier.  There is a path to get to the postseason that involves a 5-0 or 4-1 (with the loss coming to Denver or the LA Chargers) finish.  Just like 2005, 2007, 2012 and 2015 they have the NFC contenders right where they want them.  Unless they lose to Dallas on Thursday night.

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One completes 19 of 31 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns…while tossing an interception and getting sacked six times.  The pick-six brought back memories of last year, but once again despite a depleted receiving corps Cousins delivers.  Star Trek Episode Equivalent:  “The Gallileo Seven”, where Kirk spends most of the hour trying to get Spock, McCoy and Scotty back on board after a shuttle craft mishap.

Running with a Purpose- Samaje Perine ran for 100 yards…meaning that for the first time since Alfred Morris in 2013 a Redskins runningback passed the century mark in consecutive weeks.  In 47 carries over the last two games, he’s lost yardage just three times.  If this can be the new normal– we may have something.

Threes a Crowder- Jamison Crowder led the receiving corps with 7 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown.  On a team where the best receiver is an injured Jordan Reed, the ideal #3 guy is turning into a #1 as of late with double digits in targets three times and 100+ yards through the air twice in the last month.

Third Down Doubts- wouldn’t you know Crowder was on the receiving end of all four Skins third down conversions?  The team moved the chains on 4 of 15 tries, passing 12 times (Cousins went 8-11 with one sack, one touchdown and one interception) and running three times (short each instance, although on 3rd & 27 there aren’t a lot of plays available).  Crowder was the top target with 4 conversions on 4 catches in 5 passes thrown to.  Yardage Breakdown:  1 for 3 on short-yardage, 1 for 4 on 4 to 6 yards needed and 2 for 8 on long-yardage.

Case for the Defense- Zach Brown once again led the team in tackles with nine stops while Ryan Kerrigan tallied two sacks.  They held the Giants to 2 for 14 on third down, sacking Eli Manning twice on the money down while holding him to 2 for 10 passing (and two conversions).  A nice bounce-back for a D that had allowed 30+ points in four of five games.

Special Situations- Nick Rose converted on both of his field goals and extra points while Tress Way averaged 44 yards per punt. The returns weren’t spectacular but not disasters.  Move along…

Flying Flags- EIGHT PENALTIES?!?!  And that was with two declined (both of them holds by Ty Nsekhe that didn’t help Perine gain one yard or Cousins not get sacked).  Six on the offense and two on special teams.  Three false starts and two delays of game.  The most costly infraction?  A delay of game against Cousins that turned a 3rd & 13 into a 3rd & 18 right before Kirk threw his pick-six.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia (10-1) after crushing Chicago are now just a Dallas loss away from wrapping up the NFC East.  They’re also in the driver’s seat for the #1 seed in the NFC–owning a one-game lead over Minnesota.  Dallas’ free-fall minus Ezekiel Elliott continues with their 28-6 turkey of a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.  Their October win at FedEx Field keeps them in second place over the Redskins…although they’re now 10th in the NFC.  The Skins are right where they want to be for their finishing kick–and although they may be in the conference’s 11th spot, they’re gaining ground.  The NY Giants remain in last place at 2-9 and are two losses away from clinching last place…while awaiting the random San Francisco win that moves them into dead last in the conference.

Conference Call- the NFC owns a 28-18 lead over the AFC with Carolina (4-0) and the Los Angeles Rams (3-0) doing their brethren proud…while Chicago is somehow 2-0 against Pittsburgh and Baltimore.  The NFC South owns the best composite record at 27-17, while the AFC West is worst at 19-25.  The NFC East continues its middling 2017 at 22-22, good enough for fourth place.

Sayonara, Season- three teams are now officially done for 2017.  San Francisco was already eliminated from postseason possibilities (trust me, I went through the model where they reach 7-9 and tie Seattle and Arizona for 2nd in the West).  Cleveland and the New York Giants join the Niners with losses.  The Redskins and Chicago are also eliminated from their respective division races.

Haven’t we seen this before?  The last four times the Redskins have made the playoffs they’ve done so from a 5-6 start.  So in theory they have the NFL right where they want them:  a win over the 2-8 sad-sack Giants only gets them on their way.  Have we mentioned there’s not one winning team remaining on their schedule?  I’m feeling the spirit of 2005, 2007, 2012 and 2015 all over again.

One needs to think that way to avoid getting too bummed by the 34-31 come from ahead loss in New Orleans.  We always knew that the Redskins defense had issues…and in the last two weeks they’ve coughed up 72 points to slide all the way down to 31st in points allowed.  The offense has been efficient all fall yet not effective…and once again in crucial situations the attack came up short.  Special teams has been a mystery–and Sunday it was but in a good way.  Let’s get this game out of our system before Thanksgiving (and the NY Giants arrive).

Captain Kirk- The Franchise Tagged One actually played well despite the defeat and binary referendum on what to do with #8.  He completed 22 of 32 passes for 322 yards and three touchdowns–no small feat.  Yes, there was the intentional grounding in the fourth quarter–but the NFL called the team late Sunday night to say they were wrong.  Sp no harsh feelings…as long as there’s a DeLorean with plutonium waiting.  I mean–you can’t just go into a drugstore and get that element these days.  Star Trek Episode Equivalent: “The Apple”, where the Enterprise stumbles upon an idol-worshipping planet and Kirk violates the prime directive again.

Runs no Errors- Finally, a semi-monster day by a back that would make Alfred Morris proud.  Samaje Perine led the team with 117 yards on 23 carries.  The ground game that had been in hibernation since the bye week (five straight games less than 100 yards) suddenly showed life…but it happened minus the team’s best back.  Chris Thompson broke his leg in the third quarter–and the plucky kid from Florida State was the team’s leading rusher and receiver through nine weeks despite being the #2 option in both.

Third Down and Whatever- the Skins moved the chains on 4 of 12 attempts.  Kirk Cousins completed 6 of 9 passes for three conversions.  He scrambled twice, making the necessary yardage once.   Perine lost one yard on 3rd & 1.   Yardage Breakdown- 2-for-4 on 3rd & short, 1-for-1 on manageable, 1-for-7 on 3rd & 7+.

Zach Brown Band- the leader took a back-seat to Josh Norman and Kendall Fuller as a pair of defensive backs along with linebacker Martell Spraight led the Skins with seven tackles apiece.  The D locked things down for three-plus quarters, only to cough up a pair of late scores.  Greg Manusky’s unit may rank 19th against the run and 25th against the pass, but they’re currently allowing the second most points in the NFL.

Flying Flags- nine penalties for 67 yards.  Seven against the offense and two against the defense.  Two false starts and two intentional groundings, one of which was neither intentional nor grounding.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia’s win in Dallas puts the Eagles four games ahead of the Cowboys in the NFC East.  Philly also owns the best record in the conference.  Dallas is in 10th place of the NFC–and minus meal ticket Ezekiel Elliott could be sliding down the standings on a weekly basis.  The Redskins’ loss means that at 4-6 they’re in 11th place thanks to tiebreakers against Arizona and Tampa Bay.  The New York Giants remain in last place of the division but their win keeps them out of the NFC Cellar.

Conference Call- the NFC continues its whuppin’ of the AFC 26-16 with every division owning a winning record.  The NFC South remains the quartet to beat with a 25-15//24-16 mark–while the AFC North and West are tied for last at 17-23.  The NFC East is 20-20 through ten weeks.

Don’t worry.  The Skins’ trip through the NFC Gauntlet is almost complete.  Two games against the sad-sack NY Giants bookend a cakewalk that features three other teams with losing records and the fourth is a Dallas squad minus Ezekiel Elliott.  The 38-30 loss to Minnesota was merely a speedbump on their way to a 10-6 finish.  Yes, they have to play the South-leading Saints next, but after that it’s nothing but smooth sailing for the Burgundy and Gold.  Unless–the Skins are really a pretender that’s on their way to a sub-500 finish for the sixth time in nine years.

Captain Kirk- the Face of the Franchise completed 26 of 45 passes for 327 yards and a touchdown while adding a pair of TD runs.  He did throw an interception that allowed the Vikings to take a double-digit lead late in the first half.  But with receivers slipping and minimal support from his backs, Cousins was still an onside kick away from being in position to tie up NFC North leaders.  Star Trek Episode Equivalent- “A Piece of the Action”, where Kirk and Spock beam down to a planet that’s mimicked the 1920’s Prohibition Ganster era.  Plenty to like (especially the card game “fizzbin”) but at the end you realize you were looking for a better sixty minutes to spend your time.

Running on Fumes- the ground game was held to under 100 yards for the fifth straight week.  The firm of Perine, Thompson & Kelley resembled Lionel Hutz “I Can’t Believe it’s a Law Firm!” as the trio tallied 71 yards on 22 tries.  Now Kelley goes on injured reserve and the Skins ink Byron Russell from Philadelphia’s practice squad;  the former Oregon Duck was the first player in program history to notch a 1,000-yard rushing season AND a 1,000-yard receiving season in his collegiate career.

Third Down and Out- the Skins converted 5-of-14 money downs, with Cousins completing 7 of 10 passes (and four conversions) while running for a first down and getting sacked (an early incompletion to Vernon Davis was wiped out thanks to a roughing the passer penalty).  Chris Thompson (in addition to making one catch on three targets that moved the marker) carried twice on 3rd & 1…getting stuffed once while getting the yardage once.  Jamison Crowder was the top target- getting four throws, catching three and converting two.  Yardage breakdown:  4-of-5 on short-yardage (including 2-of-3 on the ground), 2-for-2 on medium yardage and 0-for-7 on 3rd & 7+.

Zach Brown Band- sometimes even when the album has ten tracks (or tackles), the product doesn’t work.  The Skins allowed touchdowns on five of the first six times they took to the field…or 35 points on the first 32 plays from scrimmage en route to a season-high 38 points allowed.  The pass rush failed to get a sack.  While DJ Swearinger tallied two interceptions in the second half, Case Keenum completed over 70% of his passes and averaged over ten yards per attempt.

Third Down and Up- the Vikings converted 8-of-12 attempts while only facing three third downs in the first half.  Keenum completed 7-of-10 passes with each completion resulting in a conversion…while also scrambling for a yard on 3rd & 8 late in the game.  Keenum found Adam Thielen for three first downs while connecting with Stefon Diggs twice.  Yardage breakdown:  3-for-3 on short-yardage, 5-for-5 on medium yardage and 0-for-4 on 3rd & 7+ yards neeeded.

Special Situations- Tress way booted his only punt of the day for 52 yards (you mean the Skins punted just once and still lost?).  Nick Rose connected on all three extra point attempts and on field goals of 21, 28 and 55 yards.  And then he attempted that onside kick…that didn’t go ten yards.  Meanwhile, on the other sideline Cobra Kai Forbath did his best “Johnny Lawrence at the 10-year reunion” impression–booting a 53-yarder while making all five extra point attempts.  Didn’t gloat about how he turned okay after attending Duke while Daniel LaRusso surely got popped for sneaking a bonsai tree into the US and did hard time.  I’m sure Johnny even got a wink from Ali at the reunion (she’s now happily married to Bobby, the sensitive Cobra Kai guy).

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia increased its lead without playing a game.  The Eagles had their bye week and at 8-1 own the best mark in the division, conference and league.  Dallas (5-4) stays in second place after their loss to Atlanta, while dropping to 10th place in the NFC.  Third place remains in the 4-5 Redskins grasp;  a better conference record gives them 11th place in the NFC over Arizona.  The Giants are in last place of the NFC East and are the 15th place team in the conference.  The only thing keeping NY out of dead last? San Francisco hasn’t had their bye week yet…and this weekend they will.

Conference Call- the NFC took a 24-16 lead with 24 games remaining in the inter-conference clash.  All four AFC Divisions have losing records against their NFC quartets.  When did it become 1995 again?  The NFC South owns the best record at 22-15 while the AFC North is a Browns-induced 14-22.  The NFC East?  Fourth best at 18-18.