The Washington Redskins will discover whether they are a true postseason challenger when they face the Indianapolis Colts today at the RCA Dome. The 11-2 Colts have won nine straight, so this is the toughest team the Redskins will take on this season.
For a change, Washington Times beat writers David Elfin and Rick Snider agree on the outcome. However, Elfin thinks the Redskins strictly should run the ball to keep Indy's high-powered offense off the field, while Snider believes the downfield passing game shouldn't be ignored. Still, neither believes the Redskins defense can stop the Colts.
Snider: It seems like every week we're talking about a first-place showdown. This is another matchup of two division leaders, but for once there's no tiebreaker considerations because Indianapolis is in the AFC. How much incentive does that leave each team?
Elfin: The Redskins have a lot because they need to win to help ensure themselves a playoff spot for the first time in seven years. But the last time they were in a dome vs. a first-place team the Redskins were rocked by the Detroit Lions two weeks ago. I think it could be a similar outcome today. The Colts look unbeatable. The funny thing is that the Redskins can afford to lose this game. Yes, if Dallas beats the New York Jets and Washington loses, the Cowboys are in first place because of their sweep of the Redskins, but Green Bay and Minnesota play each other tomorrow. One has to lose, so the Redskins will remain in good shape for the wild card, no matter what.
Snider: It's almost a throwaway game because the Redskins are expected to lose. If they're going to make the playoffs, they need to win at least one more, and that should come next week against San Francisco or in two weeks at home against Miami, not today in the RCA Dome. They just want to get through this game without a major injury. A victory probably would mean the NFC East title, but I wouldn't expect it.
Elfin: They still wouldn't finish ahead of St. Louis for the best NFC record and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, so the Redskins aren't going to affect their playoff positioning too much today. You mentioned the dome, Rick. Coach Norv Turner started his career 4-0 in domes but has lost three straight over the past two seasons. None of the games even has been close. I think the noise will be a factor again today when Washington's offense has the ball because the crowd will be crazy for its rejuvenated Colts.
Snider: I have never been to the RCA Dome. Is it louder than the Pontiac Silverdome?
Elfin: Not usually, but I bet when Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison get going, the place rocks. Who ever thought the Georgia Dome was loud until the Falcons turned into the Dirty Birds last year? Any dome is loud when the home team is winning.
Snider: Manning has been phenomenal for a second-year quarterback. Maybe it's the bloodlines. The Colts certainly are glad they didn't take Cryan Leaf.
Elfin: It seems that …