The NFL returns to late-season Saturday action with games at 4:25 p.m. and 8:25 p.m. Eastern. Though the Redskins and 49ers don’t play for a postseason berth, they can play spoiler to the Eagles and Chargers.
Philadelphia Eagles (9-5) at Washington Redskins (3-11)
The Redskins are a mess.
Robert Griffin III is back at quarterback.
If you think he’s improved since being benched in late November, you are kidding yourself.
QB maturation doesn’t work that way. A few weeks isn’t going to right what’s wrong.
And his coach knows a lot is wrong.
“It’s important for us to have success on first and second down so we don’t have to drop back and throw it 30 times a game, have a lead so we don’t have to worry about it,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said about Griffin III, not exactly giving him a vote of confidence.
Like a lot of young quarterbacks, Griffin struggles mightily reading defenses and has a shaky pocket presence.
And Griffin will be facing one of the NFL’s best pass rushes led by linebacker Connor Barwin (14.5 sacks) and possibly without his starting left tackle Trent Williams.
It’s hard seeing the Eagles losing this road game, with a playoff-birth on the line, against a house-divided.
San Diego Chargers (8-6) at San Francisco 49ers (7-7)
Speaking of houses divided and quarterbacks struggling reading defenses, that is good way to sum up the San Francisco 49ers.
It’s no secret that 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh will be working elsewhere next year, perhaps the University of Michigan, the Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, or New York Jets.
And a big reason for that, aside from his battles with GM Trent Baalke, is that quarterback Colin Kaepernick has regressed.
Kaepernick has had a very poor season. He has a tendency to lock on his first read, and isn’t good at going through his progressions. As ESPN’s Trent Dilfer told Sports Illustrated late last season, “If they take [his] first read away, that’s pretty much it.”
Aside from having a coach one foot out the door, and a quarterback going backwards, the 49ers had to release talented DT Ray McDonald earlier this week after a sexual-assault investigation followed a domestic violence charge.
They are a dysfunctional mess right now.
This is a must-win game for the Chargers, who have to win their last two games to have a shot at the playoffs.
So expect the road team to figure out a way to beat a 49er club coming apart at the seams.