SERIES HISTORY: 5th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 2-2. Washington won the first two in 2002 and 2006 and Houston has won the past two, the most recent a 17-6 victory in Week 1 of the 2014 season in Bill O'Brien's first game as an NFL head coach.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Texans can throw the ball at will and, even without Will Fuller V, they can force the issue with DeAndre Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas and possibly Keke Coutee. Washington's defense is giving up 270.1 yards through the air, which ranks them 25th in the NFL. Kickoff temperatures are projected at 50 degrees, but Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson has fared well in these colder games in the NFL, throwing for 615 yards with a 66.7 percent completion rate to go along with six touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Redskins need to run the ball with Adrian Peterson. They rank 10th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (121.2) and quarterback Alex Smith has 10 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He doesn't turn the ball over, but can the injury-ravaged offensive line protect Smith? The Texans have 23 sacks, but are a little top heavy and rank 19th in sacks per opponent pass attempt (6.93 percent). When Washington's defense plays well, the Redskins have a chance to win. Turnovers are the key there with nine interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. That has been just enough in narrow victories over Dallas and Carolina. It hasn't been near enough in blowout losses to Atlanta and New Orleans.
Washington is only giving up 90.9 yards a game rushing, which is fifth best in the NFL. Don't expect that to prevent the Texans from running the ball at all costs. Houston is rushing for 120.2 yards a clip (11th in the NFL) and that is even with some really poor games on the ground.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
--QUESTIONABLE: CB Aaron Colvin (ankle), WR Keke Coutee (hamstring), LB Zach Cunningham (knee), LB Duke Ejiofor (shoulder), CB Johnathan Joseph (ankle, knee)
--OUT: WR Jamison Crowder (ankle), RB Samaje Perine (knee, calf), RB Chris Thompson (rib)
--QUESTIONABLE: CB Quinton Dunbar (shin), K Dustin Hopkins (right groin), S Montae Nicholson (illness), T Trent Williams (thumb)
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. Redskins CB Josh Norman. Hopkins will continue to be followed by the defense's top cornerback and this week it is Norman. The Redskins are susceptible to the pass and now it is Hopkins' turn to remain the primary target for QB Deshaun Watson. Coming off a strong performance against the Denver Broncos, Hopkins can get what he wants with his routes to open up space for Watson to find him.
--Texans DE J.J. Watt vs. Redskins RT Morgan Moses. Watt has returned with a vengeance with nine sacks in nine games. Moses is the one experienced offensive lineman remaining for Washington, but he is fighting a knee injury. Expect Watt to take advantage.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Redskins S D.J. Swearinger. Swearinger is ready for some revenge. He was not happy with how Houston moved on after drafting him in the second round in 2013 and says the Texans trashed him publicly. It's been a good two seasons in Washington. Swearinger has solidified the safety spot with four interceptions last season and has four already this year. He's also forced three fumbles in 25 games.
FAST FACTS: TEXANS QB DESHAUN WATSON has 36 TD passes in 16 career games, 2nd-most in NFL history by QB in his 1st 16 career games (HOFer KURT WARNER, 39). Is 1 of 6 NFL QBs with 100+ rating (101.7) since 2017 (min. 400 att.). ... RB LAMAR MILLER has 100+ rush yards & rush TD in 2 of his past 3. ... WR DeANDRE HOPKINS had 10 catches for 105 yards & TD in Week 9. Has 4 games with 10+ catches, 100+ rec. yards & TD catch since 2017, most in NFL over span. Has 5 TD catches in his past 4. Aims for his 5th in row with rec. TD. ... Rookie TE JORDAN THOMAS has 3 TD catches in past 2. ... DE J.J. WATT had sack in Week 9. Has 9 sacks in past 7. Aims for 3rd in row with sack. ... DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY has 3 sacks in his past 3. ... S TYRANN MATHIEU has sack in 2 of his past 3. ... Rookie S JUSTIN REID had career-high 9 tackles with FR in Week 9. Aims for 3rd in row with 8+ tackles. ... REDSKINS QB ALEX SMITH threw for TD & had 100.5 rating last week. ... RB ADRIAN PETERSON has 333 rush yards (83.3 per game) & 2 rush TDs in his past 4 at home. ... TE JORDAN REED is 1 of 4 NFL TEs with 200+ catches (217) & 20+ rec. TDs (20) since 2015. ... WR JOSH DOCTSON had TD catch in Week 10. Aims for 3rd in row with rec. TD. ... WR MAURICE HARRIS has 15 catches for 176 yards (88 per game) in his past 2. Has led team in rec. yards in each of past 2 games. ... S D.J. SWEARINGER has 2 FFs, FR & sack in his past 3 at home. Had 4 FFs & 3 INTs in 2 seasons with Hou. (2013-14). ... CB JOSH NORMAN had INT in Week 10. Aims for 4th in row with PD.
PREDICTION: Washington needs a big game out of Peterson, but its patchwork offensive line will face a test against Houston's defensive front. In what should be a defensive struggle, Watson has more to work with on offense.
OUR PICK: Texas, 23-20