The Washington Redskins travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams, still basking in the adulation from their Week1 upset of the New Orleans Saints.
If they are to gain their second-straight road win, the Redskins must feature head coach Mike Shanahan's famed zone-running scheme.
The Rams are once again in rebuild mode, but the early signs are positive under new head coach Jeff Fisher. They ran the Detroit Lions very close on the road last wee.
If they can protect quarterback Sam Bradford, they will give the Redskins all they can handle. Here are the three keys to the game, along with a prediction:
Redskins must feature zone-running game
While most of the focus will be reserved for rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Redskins would be wise to feature the run instead. That means the zone system favoured by Shanahan.
The scheme has turned many unheralded runners into stars and the latest candidate is 2012 sixth-round pick Alfred Morris. He gained 96 yards and scored two touchdowns against the Saints.
Morris can be just as effective this week against a Rams rush defense that ranked 31st in the NFL in 2011. Getting Morris to the edges on the zone stretch play will be the Redskins best ploy.
It challenges 4-3 defensive ends to try and make a stop without creating a natural cutback lane for a runner to exploit. In Week 4 of last season, the Redskins amassed 170 rushing yards in a 17-10 victory over the Rams.
Featuring the run in the same way again, is their best route to another win in St. Louis.
Rams must protect Sam Bradford
Sam Bradford has been subjected to a merciless beating during the last two years. The Rams simply have to fix their offensive line and keep their franchise quarterback upright.
It's a daunting taks with the Redskins visiting. Washington boasts a ferocious pass rush, led by outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.
The Rams would be smart to have tight ends and running backs help in protection and chip theses dangerous edge rushers. While their offense will likely go through running back Steven Jackson, the Rams will still need to air it out.
The only way they'll be able to do that, is if Bradford has some time in the pocket.
St. Louis must establish RB Steven Jackson early and often
Of course one of the best ways to help Bradford is to let Jackson batter the Redskins defensive front. The NFL's finest running back endured a tough start to the season, tallying only 53 yards on 21 carries against the Lions.
Jackson must do better if the Rams hope to keep the powerful Redskins front seven at bay. If Jackson can control the clock, the 'Skins won't be able to establish their own ground-based attack and Bradford will be able to work the play-action game.
Prediction: Washington Redskins 20 - St. Louis Rams 17
Both defenses will dictate the early portion of play. However, the Redskins will eventually fashion enough big plays on both sides of the ball to win.755939