RG3, Redskins can get season back on track against Lions

On second thought, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III probably wishes he had not rushed his comeback. First, his right knee needed rehabilitation, and now it’s his image.

The sequel to Griffin’s sensational rookie season has been a box-office bust, at least through two weeks.

RG3 and the Redskins, blown off the field by Philadelphia and Green Bay, are staring at a 0-3 start unless they can outshoot the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Washington is laying one point, which is the definition of a weak home favorite.

It can be argued the Redskins’ weakest link is their defense, but the truth is somewhere in the middle.

There are cases in which statistics lie. Griffin’s 649 passing yards and five touchdowns indicate he has been a productive offensive threat, but he piled up those numbers in games that had gotten out of hand, as the Redskins were outscored by a combined 50-7 before halftime in their two losses.

On the ground, Griffin has been as useful as a car with two flat tires, rushing for just 25 yards on nine carries. As for his read-option running skills, the thrill is gone.

Eventually, Griffin will get his groove back, and he showed a few positive signs last week in garbage time against Green Bay.

The Lions, meanwhile, need running back Reggie Bush to rush back from a knee injury he suffered in a loss at Arizona. Bush has 115 yards rushing and 145 yards receiving, and his prognosis is positive after he was able to practice Friday.

If Matthew Stafford is the best quarterback on the field, the Redskins and coach Mike Shanahan will wind up red-faced again.

I’m not siding with Washington simply because it’s a desperate and winless team. Griffin is bound to get better each week — maybe he should have taken a few snaps in the preseason to shake off the rust — and he’s due for a breakout performance against a Detroit team that rarely travels well.

Through two weeks, nine of my 10 plays were underdogs, and the Redskins are my only favorite this week. Four more plays for Week 3 (home team in CAPS):

■ RAVENS (+2½) over Texans: Something about Houston leaves us wanting more. Inconsistent quarterback Matt Schaub is that something. The Texans are 0-2 against the spread and extremely lucky to be 2-0 straight up. Baltimore’s Joe Flacco is struggling to find a rhythm with new receivers, but he has a solid defense for support. The Ravens could play their “A” game in the home ’dog role.

■ Rams (+4) over COWBOYS: Jeff Fisher went 7-1 ATS as a road underdog in his first season in St. Louis, and he has a clear coaching edge in this matchup. Dallas is relying too much on Tony Romo’s arm and not enough on the running attack. The Cowboys have covered four of their past 20 games as home favorites, and that trend means something.

■ Giants (Pick) over PANTHERS: When the Giants were being doubted last season, they went to Carolina and punished the Panthers 36-7. This game won’t be as lopsided, but almost all of the sharp money is on New York, which opened the week as a 2½-point underdog. The Giants have a coach, Tom Coughlin, and quarterback, Eli Manning, who come through when their backs are against the wall.

■ STEELERS (+2½) over Bears: Pittsburgh has more problems than Miley Cyrus. At the same time, Chicago is a fortunate 2-0 team with an inflated image. Seldom are the Steelers home ’dogs, so it’s now or never for Ben Roethlisberger.

Last week: 3-2 against the spread

Season: 3-6-1

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports betting columnist Matt Youmans can be reached at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts “The Las Vegas Sportsline” weekdays at 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM). Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.