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Monday Night Preview: Can the Redskins Knock Off the White-Hot Saints in the Big Easy?

In primetime, Washington will look to take an early but commanding lead in the NFC East. Can they prove themselves against the high-powered Saints?

This week's edition of Monday Night Football features the 2-1 Washington Redskins traveling to take on the 3-1 New Orleans Saints.

Fresh off a bye, the Redskins' most recent game ended in a 31-17 demolition of the Green Bay Packers. Similarly, the Saints notched another in-conference win over the New York Giants by a score of 33-18.

With both teams leading their respective divisions, this game looks to be a key checkpoint this season. With that said, here are a few matchups likely to influence the outcome of tonight's game.

Quarterback Breakdown

In his first season as the Redskins' signal caller, Alex Smith has been up and down through three games. He has 767 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Smith has also put up middling numbers, based on our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. Among 28 quarterbacks with 100 drop backs, Smith's 0.16 Passing NEP per drop back ranks 13th in the NFL. However, New Orleans has been massacred by opposing quarterbacks to start the year, boosting Smith's outlook.

On the other side, Drew Brees has shown no signs of slowing down in his age-39 season, recording 1,295 passing yards and 8 scores through 4 games. Brees has also impressed based on NEP. His 0.31 Passing NEP per drop back ranks fifth in the NFL among the aforementioned group. Playing at home, Brees will look to continue his early-season success.

Running Back Breakdown

The Redskins' backfield consists of a timeshare between Chris Thompson and Adrian Peterson. Playing primarily when Washington has a lead, Peterson holds a stat-line of 236 yards and 3 touchdowns. Thompson, on the other hand, plays when the Redskins trail and has more receiving yards (155) than rushing yards (83).

Looking at our in-house NEP metrics, Peterson's Rushing NEP per carry of 0.03 ranks 12th among 28 running backs with at least 40 carries. Thompson owns a Rushing NEP per carry of -0.43 on limited attempts. Each running back will likely retain their respective roles going into Week 5.

For the Saints, standout second-year pro Alvin Kamara has arguably been the league's most-valuable player, but Mark Ingram is set to return from suspension muddying the waters ever so slightly. Kamara holds an absurd 275 rushing yards, 336 receiving yards, and 6 scores to start the year. Kamara has also dazzled in our metrics with a Rushing NEP per carry of 0.22, ranking second among qualified running backs.

Defensive Matchup

On the defensive side of the ball, the Redskins check in ranked 12th defensively, while New Orleans slots in at 30th, per our schedule-adjusted metrics.

The Redskins' defense has shown run-funnel tendencies with the 30th-ranked rush defense but the 5th-ranked pass defense. New Orleans has been the exact opposite, with the 29th-ranked pass defense and the 6th-ranked run defense.

With such large differences between pass and run defense, each team will look to exploit the weaknesses of the other.

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