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Redskins' Winless Tour Includes Favored Panthers

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The "oh-fer" tour continues for the Redskins.

Once again they play a winless team. Once again they line up against a bunch that might not remember its last victory. Once more it is a team, this time the Carolina Panthers, that is "oh-fer-2009."

The twist? The Panthers are favored. Favored by three and a half points.

They're playing at home, which factors in. They're coming off their bye week, which helps. They were 12-4 last season, so their poor start can be considered an aberration.

Not to sound like the late Billy Mays but … there's more. A lot more. Stuff that would not support that kind of betting line.

They're an NFL worst -12 in turnover ratio. They're 25th in total offense, 23rd in defense. They've scored four touchdowns and lost twice by double digits.

The Redskins are more concerned with offensive and defensive lines than betting lines.

"When I was with the St. Louis Rams, we were 14-point favorites in the Super Bowl and we lost," middle linebacker London Fletcher noted. "Sunday there is a football game to be played. When the ball is kicked off, nobody is going to be thinking that it's 'such and such' a point spread."

The odd unfolding of the Redskins' schedule keeps matching them against winless teams. Even their next opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs, shows a zero in the win column.

They opened against the New York Giants when everyone was 0-0. The Giants came off two consecutive losses to end the '08 season (one in the playoffs) and, counting the postseason, had lost four of their last five games. The Giants won 23-17 on the strength of a defensive touchdown.

The Redskins beat the St. Louis Rams, 9-7, in Week 2. The Rams have now lost 14 consecutive games and 18 of their last 20.

Then came the 19-14 road loss to the Detroit Lions, who had been beaten 19 consecutive times and did not a single gme in 2008.

The Redskins rebounded to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home, 16-13. The Bucs have lost eight straight.

Now, Carolina. The Panthers began falling apart in the playoffs last January, getting crushed at home by the Arizona Cardinals. Their preseason struggles (0-4, six touchdowns) continue.

And they are favored.

"It doesn't make much of a difference," wide receiver Santana Moss said. "They've been playing pretty good football if you've been watching them. They've just been losing games."

A hail of turnovers in the opener at home against the Philadelphia Eagles led to a 38-10 scrubbing. A fumble set up a critical touchdown in a 28-20 loss on the road to the Atlanta Falcons and then the Panthers fell 21-7 on a Monday night to give the Dallas Cowboys their first-regular season victory in their new billion-dollar barn.

Pretty good football is in the eye of the beholder. The Panthers yield 5.4 yards per running play, they have only one sack and the $17 million defensive end, Julius Peppers, remains quiet with one sack. Jake Delhomme has thrown seven interceptions.

"Jake's elbow has been sore, they had a running back (Jonathan Stewart) go down and some of those disruptions can create timing problems," head coach Jim Zorn said. "But they've got tremendous talent and tremendous threats."

While the so-called soft schedule looks like it helps the Redskins, it can work the other way. Their so-so play through four games and the building desperation on the part of the winless wonders makes them look like the possible cure for all ailments.

"In the NFL, every game is a tough game, regardless of the opponent's record," Fletcher said. "The Panthers played three really good teams to start the season. They haven't won a game but I see a real good team on offense with their players at the skill positions. It's going to be a challenge. They're not a 0-3 team that's bad."

The Redskins wouldn't mind turning them into a 0-4 team. They're not expecting it to be easy. They're underdogs against an "oh-fer."


Larry Weisman covered professional football for USA TODAY for 25 years and now joins the Redskins Broadcast Network and Redskins.com to bring his unique viewpoint and experience to Redskins fans. Go to Redskins.com for the Redskins Blitz column and NFL Blitz on Friday. Larry also appears on The Jim Zorn Show on WRC-TV on Saturday night, on Redskins Nation, airing twice nightly on Comcast SportsNet, and on ESPN 980 AM radio, all in the Washington, D.C. area. Read his blog at redskinsrule.com and follow him on Twitter.com/LarryWeisman.

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