The 7-2 New Orleans Saints host the 4-5 Washington Redskins this afternoon in a contest of two teams that seem to be headed in opposite directions. The Redskins have lost 3 of their last 4 games, and 4 of the last 6 after a 2-1 start to their season. The Saints meanwhile, are on a seven game winning streak that sees them on top of the NFC South after an 0-2 beginning to their campaign.
This will be the 26th all-time meeting between Washington and New Orleans, with the Redskins holding a 17-8 series advantage, including victories in 4 of the last 5 meetings between the teams.
For two of their first 3 seasons of existence, 1967 and 1969, the Saints and Redskins were both members of the NFL's Capitol Division, and played each other twice a year. Their first ever meeting took place on September 24, 1967, a Saints home game in Tulane Stadium. Washington won the game, 30-10, on the strength of 98 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns from running back Ray McDonald. New Orleans took a measure of revenge against their division rival in the 1967 season finale, when the Saints defeated the Redskins, 30-14, behind 7 catches and 144 yards from wideout Danny Abramowitz, including an 80-yd. touchdown reception early in the game.
This game will be played in the friendly confines of the Mercedes Benz Superdome, but the Saints only have a 3-9 record against Washington at home, including just 1-7 in games played in the Superdome. The only victory that the Saints have had under the Dome against Washington occured on November 23, 1992. The Redskins were the defending Super Bowl champions, and came into that game with a 6-4 record to face a 7-2 Saints team that was coming off of an NFC West championship the previous year, and would go on to finish 1992 with an 11-5 record. The Saints Dome Patrol defense dominated the defending champs, holding them to just a field goal and only 58 yards rushing while sacking Washington quarterback Mark Rypien 4 times in a 20-3 victory.
Perhaps the most famous incident in the history between the Saints and Redskins took place off the field. Heading into the 1999 draft, Saints coach Mike Ditka was looking to revamp his running game. After numerous attempts to trade up from the 12th overall pick, Ditka finally found a partner in the Washington Redskins, who owned the 5th overall selection. The Saints surrendered their 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th round picks in the 1999 draft, and their 1st and 3rd round picks in the 2000 draft to select Ricky Williams, the Heisman Trophy winning running back from the University of Texas. Williams played three years for New Orleans, rushing for over 1,000 yards two times, while Washington packaged their bounty obtained to draft 3 Pro Bowlers, cornerback Champ Bailey, offensive lineman Jon Jansen, and linebacker Lavar Arrington over the next two drafts.
Sean Payton has just a 1-3 record against Washington since his 2006 arrival in New Orleans. His team's only victory came on December 6, 2009 in Washington. The future Super Bowl champions were rolling, coming into the game with an 11-0 record against a Redskins team that would finish the year just 4-12, but the game was a close battle all afternoon. Despite 419 passing yards from Drew Brees, it took a heroic effort from Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem to save the day. Late in the first half while trailing 17-10, Brees was intercepted by Redskins defensive back Kareem Moore, but Meachem stole the ball from Moore during the return, and returned the ball 44 yards for a touchdown to even the score at halftime. Meachem, who had 8 receptions for 142 yards and a score in the game, added a 53-yd. 4th quarter touchdown catch to bring New Orleans from behind again to tie the score at 30, where the Saints would win in overtime, 33-30.
The last time that the Saints played the Redskins in New Orleans was on September 12, 2012. The Saints would be without their head coach, Payton, along with a few noteworthy players, for the 2012 season due to a ridiculous year-long league suspension. Nevertheless, New Orleans came into this 2012 season opener having finished 13-3 and setting numerous offensive records the previous year. The Saints were no match for Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III in his professional debut, as he passed for 320 yards and added 42 more on the ground in a 40-32 Redskins victory, starting a very frustrating season for the Saints and their fans.
The Saints defense was thrashed again during the last meeting between these two, on November 15, 2015, in Washington. This time, it was Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins that torched New Orleans, to the tune of 324 yards on 80% completion percentage and 4 touchdowns. The Skins added over 200 yards rushing for good measure, in a 47-14 embarrassment of the Saints.
That kind of outcome seems unlikely this time, as the Saints come into this game allowing less than 160 yards passing during their 7 game winning streak, and sporting the 8th ranked defense. They will once again be facing Cousins at the helm for a Washington team that struggles to run the football and protect it's quarterback. New Orleans counters with it's future Hall of Fame quarterback, Brees, a lethal running attack behind Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, with a dominant offensive line to lead an offense that ranks 2nd in the NFL.
PREDICTION: Saints 35, Redskins 24
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