Washington Redskins (4-2) at Detroit Lions (3-3)
SERIES HISTORY: 41st regular-season meeting. Redskins lead series, 27-13. The Lions have won the last three regular-season games, including 27-20 in 2013. The most historic matchup came in the 1991 NFC Championship Game, when the Lions lost to the eventual Super Bowl champions, 41-10.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Lions followed a familiar script during their two-game winning streak: Trust Matthew Stafford on offense and hold on for dear life (and get a late-game turnover) on defense. This week promises to be another shootout, where the Lions will lean heavily on Stafford's arm to nickel-and-dime their way downfield.
Defensively, the Lions will have their hands full with one of the more balanced passing games in the NFL. They need to get pressure on Kirk Cousins, and they can't let DeSean Jackson get open deep.
The Redskins were the team that once couldn't get off the field. After three games, opponents were converting 57.5 percent of third-down attempts. That was an astounding 10.5 percentage points behind the Lions (47 percent), who ranked 31st at the time.
Washington has become much better in that area (45 percent). Detroit has gone in the opposite direction (49.3 percent). That gives the Redskins' potent offense, ranked sixth in the NFL in yards per game (387.2), an obvious weakness to attack. The Lions have the worst interception rate in the NFL (1.46 percent).
Having defensive end Ziggy Ansah back healthy for the second week in a row will help Detroit. But the Redskins don't give up many sacks, either. Only Oakland has allowed fewer per pass attempt than Washington.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Lions WR Marvin Jones vs. Redskins CB Josh Norman. Jones ranks among the top 10 in the NFL in most receiving categories, but he found things tough going last week as the Rams, minus their best cornerback, routinely rolled coverage his way. Norman is one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL, and Washington has used him both shadowing top receivers and playing exclusively on the left side.
--Redskins TE Jordan Reed vs. Lions LB Kyle Van Noy. Reed leads Washington with 33 catches (third among NFL tight ends) for 316 yards. He's a difficult matchup, and the Lions have struggled defending the position this year, allowing seven touchdowns. Reed is in the NFL's concussion protocol; but, if he's cleared, he could give Van Noy fits in nickel packages.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Lions RB Dwayne Washington. Washington is expected back this week after missing the last two games with a sprained ankle. The rookie seventh-round pick returned to practice last Friday and could have played against the Rams, but the Lions chose to give him a few extra days of rest in order to ensure his health. Theo Riddick hasn't practiced in more than a week because of his own ankle sprain, which means Washington could play as the Lions' lead back this week. He has shown bits of explosiveness, scoring on a kick return and a long run in the preseason, and is averaging 4.2 yards per carry.
INJURY REPORT: Washington -- Out: TE Jordan Reed (concussion). Questionable: WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder). Detroit -- Out: TE Eric Ebron (ankle, knee), LB DeAndre Levy (quadriceps, knee), DT Haloti Ngata (shoulder), RB Theo Riddick (ankle), T Corey Robinson (ankle). Questionable: DE Ezekiel Ansah (ankle), G Larry Warford (groin), RB Dwayne Washington (ankle), LB Tahir Whitehead (abdomen).
FAST FACTS: Washington has won four straight since an 0-2 start. ... WR Jamison Crowder scored in Week 6 and has four TDs (three receiving, one punt return) in the past five games. ... TE Vernon Davis scored his first TD for Washington last week. He had two TD catches in his last game vs. Detroit (2012 with San Francisco). ... Washington LB Ryan Kerrigan had two sacks in Week 6 and has 4.5 sacks in the past six games. ... Lions QB Matthew Stafford passed for 270 yards and four TDs in Week 6, his 10th game with at least four TDs. He has a 100-plus rating in seven of the past nine home games. ... Detroit DE Ezekiel Ansah had two sacks and a forced fumble in the last meeting. He has 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in his past eight home games.
PREDICTION: These teams are about as evenly matched as you can get, but the Redskins have a lot of momentum and have figured out how to win on the road.
OUR PICK: Redskins, 27-24.