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Redskins, Broncos prepare for high-scoring affair Sunday
By: Brian Graham - StatFox
Published: 10/27/2013  at  5:50:00 AM
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WASHINGTON REDSKINS (2-4)
at DENVER BRONCOS (6-1)

Kickoff: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
Line: Denver -12, Total: 57.5

Two high-powered offenses collide on Sunday when the Broncos host the Redskins.

Washington QB Robert Griffin III accounted for 382 yards (298 passing, 84 rushing) of his team’s 499 total yards in last week’s 45-41 win over Chicago, and he’ll need another big effort against a Denver team that has tallied at least 33 points and 400 yards in all seven games. However, the Broncos also allowed 39 points last week in Indianapolis to suffer their first loss of the season. These teams have split the past eight meetings (4-4 SU), but Washington holds the 6-2 ATS edge. The last time Denver covered against the Redskins was in a 38-16 win in 1998, back when John Elway led the offense and Harald “The Dutch Touch” Hasselbach played on the defensive line. Both teams have some positive trends, including Washington going 8-1 ATS (89%) versus poor passing defenses (235+ passing YPG allowed) in the past two seasons and tallying a 14-3 ATS (82%) road mark since 1992 after gaining 175+ rushing yards in a game. Since Peyton Manning joined the Broncos before last year, his team is 13-5 ATS (72%) when favored, and 6-0 ATS versus bad teams (25% to 40% win pct.), winning these games by an average score of 37 to 13. While both teams are relatively healthy, two key players in the secondary will not play on Sunday -- Redskins SS Brandon Meriweather (suspension) and Denver top CB Champ Bailey (foot).

Can the Broncos bounce back from last week's loss and cover the hefty spread? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts are heating up in NFL Best Bets, combining for a 54.1% ATS record (33-28-2) over the past four weeks. StatFox Scott is 64.3% ATS (9-5) in the past three weeks, while StatFox Brian went 3-2 ATS in Week 7, marking his fourth straight week of finishing .500 or better. He was also 3-1 in NFL Totals in Week 7. StatFox Gary is 57.1% ATS (8-6-1) in NFL Best Bets over the past four weeks.

Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is finally 100 percent healed from the torn ACL he suffered at the end of last season, and has been let loose with running the football. After averaging 4.5 carries per game over the first four contests, he has rushed 20 times over the past two games, tallying 161 yards (8.2 YPA). Along with top RB Alfred Morris (472 rush yards, 5.2 YPC, 3 TD), Washington ranks second in the NFL in yards per carry (5.2) and fourth in rushing yards (142 YPG) this year. Griffin hasn't been as efficient throwing the football this season though, with an 83.4 passer rating (7.3 YPA, 8 TD, 6 INT), which is down considerably from his 102.4 rating (8.1 YPA, 20 TD, 5 INT) as a rookie. But he'll be throwing against a terrible Broncos pass defense, and mostly targeting top WR Pierre Garcon (40 rec., 466 yards, 2 TD) and emerging star TE Jordan Reed (26 rec., 298 yards, 2 TD) who caught nine passes for 134 yards and a touchdown last week. While the Redskins' offense should put up plenty of points on Sunday, the defense will have to make major strides to keep the Broncos offense in check. Washington has allowed the fourth-most yards per play in the NFL (6.1) and its 30.7 PPG makes it the third-worst scoring defense in the league. Although the Redskins' third-down defense has been strong (36%, 8th in NFL), their red-zone efficiency has not (61%, 25th in league). Washington will need to force some Denver mistakes to keep the score down, but it has a positive turnover margin just twice this season. The Redskins have tallied just three sacks over the past two games, and will need to put pressure on Broncos QB Peyton Manning to have a chance here.

Manning couldn't lead his current team to a win over his old team last Sunday night, but he still nearly brought his team back from a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter, finishing 29-of-49 for 386 yards, 3 TD and 1 INT in the 39-33 loss. That puts Manning's incredible numbers this season at 72% completions, 2,565 passing yards (366 per game), 25 TD and 3 INT. He's been able to complete more than 35 passes to four different receivers with WR Wes Welker leading the team in catches (44), WR Eric Decker leading in receiving yards (627), TE Julius Thomas tying Welker for the league lead with eight receiving touchdowns, and WR Demaryius Thomas doing it all with 41 catches for 610 yards and 5 TD. The Denver ground game hasn't been great though, with 108 rushing YPG (16th in NFL) on 3.8 yards per carry (22nd in league). But RB Knowshon Moreno (413 rush yards, 4.3 YPC) has done a great job of finding the end zone with an NFL-high eight touchdown runs, while helping his team post the NFL's best red zone efficiency (79%). The Broncos also lead the league in points (42.6 PPG), yards (469 YPG) and third-down conversions (53%). The defense has been a much different story though. Denver has been outstanding stopping the run with a league-leading 77 rushing YPG allowed on 3.3 YPC (2nd in NFL). But no team has allowed more passing yards than the Broncos (320 YPG), and the loss of CB Champ Bailey will certainly hurt. They give up 28.1 PPG (6th-worst in NFL) and are below average in both red zone efficiency (59%, 20th in league) and first downs allowed (25th in NFL). Denver, which tied for the NFL lead with 52 sacks last year, has been lacking a stud pass rusher, which is why it has a pedestrian 19 sacks this season (T-13th in NFL). But with LB Von Miller likely to play more snaps in his second game back from a suspension, the Redskins offensive line has to be ready to account for Miller coming off the edge.

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