The Washington Redskins won't be facing an undefeated team when they head to Mile High Stadium on Sunday, but the 6-1 Denver Broncos are still considered by many to be the top team in the NFL. Denver lost its first game of the season in Week 7, falling to the Indianapolis Colts, 39-33. That leaves the Kansas City Chiefs as the lone undefeated team.
While the Broncos were losing to the Colts, the Redskins were winning their second game of the season, a surprise upset of the Chicago Bears. They won that one by a score of 45-41, and it's certainly a step in the right direction, but they have a long, long way to go at this point. They've already dropped the two divisional matchups they've played.
This should be an interesting game, even if one team is so heavily favored over the other. Let's talk about both teams below, starting with the home team:
Meet the Broncos
Against the Colts, Peyton Manning had a stereotypically poor game. He narrowly missed 400 yards passing and only found the end zone three times, and he also threw a poor interception. This is all, of course, a joke. Manning's stats were stellar, but his defense let him down, allowing Andrew Luck to throw for three touchdowns of his own.
The Broncos have the worst secondary in the NFL, and it's a big reason games have been so high-scoring this season. If they shored up that secondary, the Broncos would be virtually unstoppable. They have the No. 1 passing game in the NFL (361.3 yards per game), the No. 16 rushing attack (108 rushing yards per game) and the No. 1 rushing defense in the league (77.1 yards allowed per game).
Enduring such a poor secondary is difficult even with such high marks in the other areas. Every now and then a quarterback will have a big game and that's all it will take to beat them.
Meet the Redskins
Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III is the kind of player who can certainly do that. When he's playing well and confident, he can abuse a secondary like Denver's. Of course, he does much more than attack a secondary, as evidenced by his play against Chicago this week. Griffin threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns and added 84 yards rushing on the ground, which turned out to be the difference-maker.
Of course, Jay Cutler getting injured after eight pass attempts helped Washington as well. Still, Griffin leads the No. 7 passing attack in the NFL at 274.3 yards per game, and contributes heavily to the No. 4 rushing attack in the league at 141.5 yards per game. That running game will be put to the test against Denver's stout rushing defense.
This one will likely come down to whether or not Griffin's added dynamic to the running game will be enough to finally do some damage to the Broncos on the ground. They're certainly not favored, but winning this one is not out of reach for the Redskins.
Local Takes: Broncos
Over at Mile High Report, they think the matchup between Von Miller and Wesley Woodyard against Robert Griffin III will be crucial:
You can guarantee both players will be pulling some "spy" duty this week. Remember last year and Von's dominating performance against Cam Newton? Think more of the same here. Miller and Woodyard both have speed to burn and must be utilized to keep the young QB from running through our secondary.
Local Takes: Redskins
Keely Diven of Hogs Haven notes that the Broncos in general have saved easier competition than the Redskins:
18-30: The combined records of Broncos opponents. They've only faced two teams with winning records through week seven, beating Dallas by three points and losing to the Colts by six points. Not that the Redskins have a winning record, mind you.
21-19: The combined records of Redskins opponents. They've faced four teams with winning records through week seven, beating Chicago by four points and losing the other three games by an average of 13.3 points.
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Unsurprisingly, all five of SB Nation's experts picked Denver to win this one. For the rest of the Week 8 picks, go here.
The Broncos opened up as 14-point favorites for the matchup, according to Odds Shark. The line has mostly stayed the same throughout the week, with some sites having Denver listed as a 13-point favorite, while others stuck to the original number.
The Broncos have a bye week before taking on the San Diego Chargers on Nov. 10. The Redskins will take on the Chargers next as well, but they have already had their bye, and will play them on Nov. 3.