The Washington Redskins and their potent offense visit Minnesota to tangle with Adrian Peterson and the Vikings in this week's Thursday night NFL showdown.
The Redskins are coming off a 30-24 overtime victory over the San Diego Chargers, improving to 3-2 since opening the season with three straight losses. The Vikings have dropped four consecutive games, including a 27-23 decision to Dallas last time out.
Here's the breakdown in our betting tale of the tape:
Led by second-year quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Redskins have succeeded at racking up the passing yards. They rank 12th in the league in yards per game through the air (261.4), with Griffin posting 291 yards in the victory over the Chargers despite not throwing a touchdown pass. The rush attack has been even more impressive, ranked seventh in the NFL in total yards (1,170) while averaging five yards per carry and registering 12 touchdowns.
Despite employing the defending rushing champion in Peterson, the Vikings have actually had an average running game so far in 2013, ranked 16th in the league in yards per game (111.5). Peterson, who boasted prior to the start of the season that he would break Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105 yards, in on pace for just 1,422. The passing game has been dreadful, ranked 23rd in yards per contest (205.3) thanks to a revolving door of QBs.
The Redskins' frequent defensive lapses are the main reason the team finds itself at 3-5 on the season. Washington has among the worst pass defenses in football, ranked 28th in yards per game against (282.1) while giving up 17 touchdowns against just nine interceptions. The run defense has been nearly as poor, ranked 22nd in yards per game against (116.6) and one of only six units to have surrendered double-digit scores on the ground (10).
As bad as the Washington pass defense has been this season, Minnesota's has been even worse so far. The Vikings have been gashed for 291.1 yards per game through the air and have been torched for 18 passing touchdowns - second only to the Buffalo Bills (20). Teams have had a much harder time running on the Vikings, who are limiting the opposition to 104 yards per game on the ground but have surrendered nine rushing touchdowns.
Washington has one of the worst return games in the league through the first nine weeks, sitting 31st in average kick-return yardage (19.4) and 25th in punt-return average (6.5). While they've defended kickoff returns well - limiting foes to a 22.1-yard average - the Redskins are one of only two teams to have allowed two punt-return touchdowns. Kicker Kai Forbath has had a dreadful season, going just 5-for-9 on field goals while also missing time due to injury.
The kick-return exploits of Cordarelle Patterson have Minnesota sitting atop the ledger in yards per attempt (30.6), with the electrifying rookie returning two kicks for touchdowns so far. The Vikings also have a punt-return score while averaging 16.2 yards per attempt, good for second in the league. Kicker Blair Walsh hasn't been as automatic as he was during his magical rookie season of 2012, but has still converted 11 of 13 kicks - including 2 of 3 from 50-plus yards.
"Of course you're not gonna get the same show that you're gonna get on a Sunday when you've got guys that had a lot of time to recover and rehabilitate from the little nicks and bruises from the previous game. But I mean, all in all, it's a game and you've got to go out and give it your all, and we plan on doing that." - Redskins LT Trent Williams
"I don't take that in a negative way at all. Our guys are competitive. They put a lot of work in. Good players ask why: 'Hey, coach, why did you make this decision? What were you thinking?' I have no problem whatsoever about a guy asking me why. We explain it, we talk about it and we move on." - Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams on being second-guessed following last week's loss to Dallas