Five nuggets of knowledge about the Week 8 games.
Can the Washington Redskins avenge last season's embarrassing 19-14 loss to the Detroit Lions? Redskins Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Orakpo told the NFC East blog on Thursday that Washington's loss to the Lions, which ended a 19-game losing streak, has been on his mind every day since. There's no way Mike Shanahan will let his team take the Lions lightly. Early in this game, the Skins' front seven must do a good job on Lions rookie running back Jahvid Best, who is capable of home run plays on the ground and in the passing game. Linebacker Rocky McIntosh is playing at a high level and that must continue. I'm eager to see if defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is able to put back-to-back solid performances together. He's facing his old defensive coordinator from Tennessee in Jim Schwartz, so you may see him bring a little something extra.
The Redskins will attempt to hold down Megatron on this game. Calvin Johnson is one of the best two or three receivers in the league, and we all remember what Andre Johnson did to the Skins. But this is DeAngelo Hall's defense, as he has pointed out, and he should be able to pad his interception count against the Lions. I'm ready to see if Jim Haslett does anything special against Johnson. My gut tells me that he won't.
It's time to unleash Jon Kitna on the NFL again. I really think Kitna will play well against the Jaguars. Aaron Kampman's really the only Jags pass-rusher who can get home against the Cowboys, so Kitna should have plenty of time. He told me recently that he fought through elbow tendinitis in his throwing arm for a five-year stretch (2003-08), so I'm eager to see how he holds up with a lot more attempts than he's used to. The Jags' best cover man is Rashean Mathis, so look for Jason Garrett to stay away from his side when possible.
Let's see if Wade Phillips' defense can actually contribute to a win. With the Cowboys leading the Giants 20-7, the defense pulled a disappearing act. Phillips had the gall to blame it on Kitna's three-and-out-based offense, but we all know the score. The Jaguars allegedly have inferior talent to the Cowboys, so this is a game DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer should resemble Pro Bowlers again. If David Garrard's not under siege in this game, something's gone horribly wrong.
It's time to show the world that Dez Bryant will someday be an elite wide receiver in this league. And that day is coming soon. I don't think the Jags have enough firepower to keep up with Miles Austin, Roy Williams and Bryant. It will be interesting to see if Bryant's given a bigger role in the offense this week. If he is, it will be a sign that he's showing more dedication in the classroom at Valley Ranch. Have a wonderful bye weekend, Eagles and Giants fans. I'm sure you'll be backing your NFC East cohorts. Oh wait ...