Week 1: Redskins-Saints matchup

The SportsXchange

Washington at New Orleans

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans- TV: FOX; DirecTV: 707

*TV announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa

*Keys to the game: The Redskins have three capable running backs -- rookie Alfred Morris and second-year options Roy Helu and Evan Royster -- and the threat of rookie QB Robert Griffin turning a scramble out of the pocket into a scamper through the Saints' secondary. New Orleans will use more zone defense than in previous seasons hoping to minimize giving up passing yards in large chunks. To make it all work, the front four -- without suspended DE Will Smith this week -- must stay disciplined but aggressive against Griffin. Drew Brees won't have any adjustment period with Aaron Kromer acting as head coach. Pete Carmichael will call plays, and in the 10 games in which he was the primary play-caller last season the Saints averaged 476.1 yards and 26.9 first downs. The Redskins can't defend all of Brees' options in the passing game. RB Darren Sproles, TE Jimmy Graham and WR Marques Colston all present matchup concerns behind Washington's solid front seven.

*Matchup to watch - Redskins FS Madieu Williams vs. Brees: Williams plays centerfield in Jim Haslett's defense and will find himself one-on-one with the 6-foot-7 and light-footed Graham and 5-7 and darting quick Sproles. If Williams regularly loses in the open field, the Saints run away with this game.

*Player spotlight - Redskins TE Fred Davis: With Chris Cooley gone, the tight end job belongs to Davis. He caught just two passes in four preseason games but is the team's leading returning receiver (59-796-3) and essential in a healthy Mike Shanahan offense.

*Fast facts: The Saints scored 40 or more points six times and gained at least 500 yards total offense four times last season. ... The four games in this series since a 43-27 Saints win in 2002 have been decided by six points or less.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Redskins could soon become appointment television, but that designation belongs to the Saints and Brees for at least another season. On their worst day at the Superdome last season, the Saints put up 27 points and had outbursts of 45 (twice), 49, 62 and 40 at home.

*Our pick: Saints 37-20
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