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Week 7 Preview: Buccaneers at Redskins

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The Sports Xchange

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) at Washington Redskins (2-4)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at FedExField, Landover, Md. – TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin

*Keys to the game: Look at the postgame box score and it’s a good bet the team that logs the most rushing attempts is on the winning side of the ledger.

The Bucs have ridden the resurgence of RB Doug Martin to the league’s ninth-best rushing attack, and funneling the offense through Martin has helped rookie quarterback Jameis Winston cut down on some of the mistakes that marred his play over the first month of the season. For his part, Winston says he’s fine being a cog of the offense rather than a one-man show. Tampa Bay has shown the willingness load up on multiple-tight end sets, but offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter will also be tempted to test the Redskins depleted cornerback depth with vertical shots to WRs Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson.

The Redskins expect rookie RB Matt Jones (toe) to return to share the workload with Alfred Morris, and coach Jay Gruden was blunt in his assessment the offense runs much better when both are healthy and getting plenty of touches. That’s because embattled QB Kirk Cousins continues to make too many mistakes – six touchdowns against eight interceptions, with four multi-interception games. Tampa Bay sports the league’s 25th-ranked pass defense and was burned for 303 yards by Jacksonville in its last game, but Gruden will remain dogged in his approach with the ground game as long as possible.

*Matchup to watch – Bucs LG Kevin Pamphile vs. Redskins NT Terrance Knighton: Pamphile is likely to start in place of Logan Mankins (groin) and will have his hands full against Knighton, the 6-3, 364-pound plugger in the middle of the Redskins’ 3-4 defense.

*Player spotlight – Redskins WR Jamison Crowder: The rookie slot receiver is second on the team with 27 catches for 244 yards. However, he hasn’t made the expected impact on flipping field position, averaging 4.2 yards on 11 punt returns with a long of 13.

*Fast facts: Evans has no touchdown catches after tying the team single-season record with 12 as a rookie. … Cousins has a 113.6 passer rating with six touchdowns and no interceptions inside the red zone.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Slow starts have plagued the Bucs, who have yet to score a touchdown in the first quarter. Washington gets the early upper-handed at home, allowing the Redskins ride their ground game to a critical victory.

*Our pick: Redskins 24-16.


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