Lions-Redskins today

September 20, 1992|By Vito Stellino

Site: RFK Stadium, Washington, 4 p.m.

TV: Channels 11, 9

Radio: WTEM (570 AM); WBAL (1090 AM) (joined in progress)

Line: Redskins by 9

Last week: The Redskins beat the Atlanta Falcons, 24-17, and the Lions beat the Minnesota Vikings, 31-17.

Last meeting: The Redskins routed the Lions, 41-10, in the NFC title game last January. In the last regular-season meeting, the Redskins beat them in last year's opener, 45-0. Mark Rypien threw only nine incomplete passes in each game, hitting on 15 of 19 in the first game and 12 of 17 in the second.

The series: The Redskins have a 21-8 edge in regular-season games and a 2-0 margin in the playoffs. They've won 15 straight home and away against the Lions since 1965, the longest such streak in the NFL. The Lions are 0-16 in Washington. The last time they won a road game against this franchise was in 1935, when the Redskins were located in Boston.

the sidelines: Coach Joe Gibbs, in his 12th season, has a 116-54 record. Wayne Fontes, in his fourth full season, is 28-27.

What the Redskins have to do to win: When the Redskins are struggling, they tend to do what they did last week against the Falcons: stress a conservative, ball-control offense that minimizes mistakes and takes charge of the game. If the Lions come up to stop the run, Mark Rypien will be expected to go deep, although he has had trouble hitting the deep pass this year.

What the Lions have to do to win: Run Barry Sanders. The Redskins have played three games against the Lions since they drafted Barry Sanders. He was injured and didn't play in the opener last year. He got the ball only 11 times each in the other two games -- the Redskins' 41-38 overtime victory in 1990 and the Redskins' 41-10 victory in last year's NFC title game. Now that Dan Henning, a former Redskins assistant, is running their offense, look for Sanders to carry a lot more this time. Henning still uses a four-wide-receiver run-and-shoot offense, but he also uses tight ends to give Sanders more blocking. The Redskins have been shaky against the run and Henning will try to exploit that.

njury report: Lions: DT Marc Spindler (knee), LB Tracy Hayworth (hamstring, knee), S William White (ankle) are questionable. Redskins: WR Stephen Hobbs (knee) is doubtful.

Outlook: The oddsmakers, who made the Redskins a nine-point favorite, still seem to think it's last year. Unless the Redskins start playing the way they did last year, it figures to be much closer this time. If Barry Sanders can do an Emmitt Smith number on the Redskins, the Lions could even spring an upset.

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