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Washington Redskins vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Prediction, preview, pick to win

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The Sports Xchange
Philip Riversand ther Los Angeles Chargers take on the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Photo by Lori Shepler/UPI
Philip Riversand ther Los Angeles Chargers take on the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Photo by Lori Shepler/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON REDSKINS (5-7) AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (6-6)

GAME SNAPSHOT

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KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, StubHub Center. TV: CBS, Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting. Redskins lead series, 7-3. Washington won the last game at FedEx Field, 30-24 in overtime, on Nov. 3, 2013. The Redskins have not played the Chargers on the road since Jan. 3, 2010.

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KEYS TO THE GAME: This game means something to the Chargers, who are tied for first place in the AFC West. It means almost nothing to the Redskins, with the NFC wild-card teams likely reaching at least 10 wins this season. That one extra win makes all the difference.

The Chargers might aim their ballcarriers at Washington's run-stoppers and hope for the best. But that would get away from what the Chargers do best, and that's move the ball through the air.

Philip Rivers is a streaky quarterback, and right now he is in one of the best stretches of his career. He has 3,292 passing yards, which ranks fourth in the NFL.

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Aside from Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins' pass rush should be something the Chargers can handle. Rivers will try to keep his good string going, aiming for favorite target Keenan Allen (77 catches). The Redskins need their secondary, led by Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller, to come through.

But Washington has tended to struggle more with run-first teams like Dallas than pass-happy teams like Los Angeles. The Redskins won in Los Angeles earlier this season when they beat the high-powered Rams.

On offense, the Redskins' patchwork offensive line, riddled with backups and injured starters, is going to struggle to contain the Chargers' pass rush. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram have combined for 20 sacks. If Washington can protect quarterback Kirk Cousins, however, it should set up rookie Samaje Perine for another nice game on the ground. That's a weakness for the Chargers that can be exploited.

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MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Redskins LT Trent Williams vs. Chargers DE Melvin Ingram. Ingram has 8.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss as he moves all over the line. He will likely see a half-speed version of Williams, who has been playing hurt since Oct. 2. Ingram should be able to take advantage of Williams' balky right knee. Even when Ingram moves to the left side, Redskins RT Morgan Moses (ankles) is also playing hurt. Ingram could be in for a big day.

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--Chargers OL vs. Redskins run defense. While the passing game has been humming, the Chargers are still seeking consistency with the running game. The run blocking has been spotty and it needs to be on its game with Zach Brown gunning for ballcarriers on early downs. Brown paces NFL linebackers with 117 tackles, but he's not getting much help as the Redskins are No. 23 against the run. Just maybe, the Chargers' running back tandem of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler can break out to take the pressure off Rivers -- if the run blocking is there. Rookie left guard Dan Feeney is improving each week.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORTS

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

--Out: WR Maurice Harris (concussion), S Montae Nicholson (concussion), TE Jordan Reed (hamstring)

--Questionable: LB Zach Brown (hamstring, achilles), DE Terrell McClain (toe), T Morgan Moses (ankle), C Chase Roullier (hand), LB Martrell Spaight (ankle), T Trent Williams (knee)

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

--Questionable: DT Corey Liuget (toe), WR Mike Williams (knee)

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Redskins CB Kendall Fuller. The second-year corner has had a breakthrough season, with four interceptions. He struggled at times as a rookie while still recovering from microfracture knee surgery during his junior year at Virginia Tech. Fuller still was drafted in the third round and this year has become a vital component of Washington's defense as the primary nickel cornerback. He'll need to play well against a Chargers passing attack that ranks second in the NFL in yards per game.

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FAST FACTS: Washington QB Kirk Cousins ranks third in the NFC with 3,289 passing yards. In his past 12 road games, he has 3,505 yards (292.1 per game), 21 TDs and six INTs. ... Redskins RB Samaje Perine has 325 scrimmage yards (108.3 per game) and a rushing TD in the past three games. ... Redskins WR Jamison Crowder leads the team with 51 receptions and 628 yards. He has 479 yards (95.8 per game) and a TD in past five games. ... Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan has three sacks in past three games. ... Redskins LB Zach Brown leads the NFL with 117 tackles. ... San Diego QB Philip Rivers has 1,039 passing yards (346.3 per game) and eight TDs in his past three games vs. the NFC. ... Chargers WR Keenan Allen had 10 catches for 105 yards and a TD in Week 13. He is the only player in NFL history with 10 catches, 100 yards and a TD in three consecutive games. ... Chargers DE Joey Bosa has nine sacks in the past eight games. ... Chargers rookie CB Desmond King had a sack last week. He is the only NFL corner with at least three sacks (3) and a pick (1).

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PREDICTION: The Redskins went to the West Coast twice this year and came away with wins over the Rams and Seahawks, but they won't do it again as the Chargers continue to roll.

OUR PICK: Chargers, 30-20.

--Ellen Port

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