There was a time the NFC South was thought to be a division with a photo finish, now it's looking like a one-horse-race as the Atlanta Falcons are streaking away from the competition, already holding a three game lead. The Washington Redskins have a two-and-two record heading into this week, and it's hard to imagine they'll pose too much of a threat to Atlanta provided the Falcons can do these three things right.
1. Stop Robert Griffin III
The Falcons know all too well what it means to spend big in the draft to ensure you get the player you think will be the final piece of the puzzle. For the Redskins this was QB Robert Griffin III, and so far he's been sensational. On pace for over 4,000 passing yards, and completing 69.4% of his passes, he's a player than has to be accounted for on every down.
Last week against the Panthers it was Mike Nolan's defense who seemed unprepared to account for a mobile QB, and yet again the Falcons face a player with athleticism, as well as the ability to run out of the pocket should the need arise. RGIII is more flappable than Newton, but that doesn't mean he's an easy target. The Falcons will need to be varied, and prepared for the 'Skins QB.
2. Take care of business on first and second down
Washington boasts one of the top-ten defenses in the NFL on third down, allowing opponents to convert just 34% of the time. They give up plenty of yards (415 per game), but when they're keyed in on a passing down they know how to keep an offense at bay. Michael Turner running well on 1st and 2nd down will be key to getting the Falcons into a short-down situation, and from there the Redskins will need to guess whether Atlanta will run or pass. That is the key to getting past their third down defense.
3. Force anyone not named 'Ryan Kerrigan' to beat you
Accounting for half the Redskins' sacks, it's Ryan Kerrigan who needs to be accounted for, and Kerrigan alone. He has 3.5 sacks on the season, and is a force as a pass rusher. It will be on Tyson Clabo to really step up this week after surrendering three sacks to Charles Johnson last week. If the Falcons can diffuse Kerrigan they take away Washington's pass rush, and if that happens and Ryan has time, they'll win comfortably.