Panthers (3-1) at Redskins (2-2)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FedExField, Landover, Maryland
Danny Sheridan’s by 2
Panthers’ keys to victory: Carolina will need to continue to rely on the offensive versatility of QB Cam Newton if it wants to put up points against the Redskins’ excellent defense. Similarly, RB Christian McCaffrey has to establish the run game right from the start of the contest. An added boost to Carolina’s offense could come from the possible return of TE Greg Olsen. Defensively, the Panthers will need to take away Washington’s run game; they can’t let RBs Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson get into a rhythm.
Redskins’ keys to victory: Stopping Carolina from establishing any type of running game is crucial. Offensively, the Redskins will need a big game from RB Adrian Peterson, who has shown this season that he is still an elite running back at 33 years old. QB Alex Smith’s calculated passing game also will need to be accurate and efficient. But perhaps more important, the Redskins will need to actually score in the second half, something that has troubled them this season.
Matchup to watch: Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey vs. Washington’s defensive line. If McCaffrey can break down Washington’s D-line, that opens everything up for Carolina’s offense. If the Redskins can slow down McCaffrey, that in turn will help them contain Cam Newton.
Who wins? Washington’s Week 3 victory over Green Bay showed how good the Redskins can be. Expect a similar performance against a Panthers team that will keep things close but will come up short.
Redskins, 24-21 line: Redskins