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What to Watch: Redskins vs. Rams

Washington tries to go to 2-0 against St. Louis Sunday



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    Getty Images
    Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins throws against the New Orleans Saints during the season opener at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    Game time: Sunday, Sept. 16, 4:05 p.m. ET, Edward Jones Dome
    TV: FOX
    Weather: mid-70s, mostly sunny (we stress: the game's in a dome)
    Records: Redskins (1-0), Rams (0-1)

    When the Redskins have the ball. The road to mediocrity is paved with stellar Week 1 performances followed by months of unspectacular football. We saw it last year from the Redskins, who bolted to a 3-1 record out of the gate only to end the season with five wins. But this time is different, and we all know why: Robert Griffin III.

    Honestly, no one knew what to expect heading into the season opener but now that that happened, expectations have reached ludicrous-speed levels.

    "A lot of excitement, a lot of optimism," defensive tackle Barry Cofield said earlier this week. "You get a quarterback, a young guy comes in with that type of energy and that type of upside and ability, it pretty much puts a smile on your face. You feel like that guy can make a play to change the game at any time."

    The task now facing RGIII and the coaching staff is making sure they don't get caught up in the hype but instead continue to put their young quarterback in situations to succeed. Coach Mike Shanahan seems to have a firm grasp on this.

    "It's one game. We've got 15 left," he said. "I think our team is mature enough to understand that it was a nice win but it's one win."

    Griffin had success against the Saints because the offense was tailored to his strengths. We don't expect that to change, especially with running back Alfred Morris rushing for 96 yards and two scores.

    But the Skins could be without wide receiver Pierre Garcon (4 receptions, 109 yards, 1 TD last week), who is battling a foot injury. That'll mean a greater reliance on Josh Morgan, Aldrick Robinson, Santana Moss and Fred Davis -- and Davis could be the most important of the pass-catchers because the Rams are stout at cornerback with Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins.

    When the Rams have the ball. The Redskins' defense sacked Drew Brees twice, harassed him into throwing two picks and completing just 46 percent of his passes. Frankly, he looked more like Rex Grossman than a future Hall of Famer. And if Rams quarterback Sam Bradford suffers a similar fate Sunday, one of the storylines coming out of the game will be why St. Louis didn't take RGIII themselves.

    Bradford, the first-overall pick in 2010, has been victimized by bad luck and bad teams and a beaten down fanbase has had enough. It's unfair to Bradford but that's the nature of playing the highest-profile position in sports.

    The Rams still fully support Bradford, and first-year head coach Jeff Fisher pointed out earlier this week that his team is close to putting it all together.

    "There's a lot of areas on the tape and film where we're a play away," he said. "You make a play here, you make a play there, you have a chance to win the ballgame."

    That's encouraging but moral victories don't count in the NFL. And against a so-so Lions' defense last week, the Rams weren't good. They managed just 14 first downs and 251 total yards (both NFC lows). Bradford was sacked three times and workhorse running back Stephen Jackson managed just 53 yards on the ground. The offensive line is in tatters and the pass-catching options include undersized Danny Amendola and, well, that's about it.

    Prediction. The Redskins are favored by 3.5 points on the road. After last week's showing, that sounds low, but then again: We shouldn't get caught in the trap of putting too much stock in one week of games. That said, we like Washington to get to 2-0. Redskins 20, Rams 17.