Three things to know before the Redskins visit the Saints on Monday Night Football (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).
1. Drew Brees needs 201 yards to become the NFL’s all-time leading passer—a remarkable achievement that stems from the fact that perhaps no quarterback is more in-tune with the system he runs than the 39-year-old Saint. This season, that system has been brilliant getting the ball to Alvin Kamara through the air. One example: the Saints attack a zone inside linebacker with a wide receiver on a crossing route (often Michael Thomas) and then release Kamara into the area underneath that same linebacker. The Redskins frequently play zone, and linebackers Zach Brown, Mason Foster and Josh Harvey-Clemons must work together to defend Kamara when they see a wideout coming at them.
2. Recently, Adrian Peterson has looked stiffer than his former, Hall-of-Fame self, needing more time and space to change directions. But that’s not to say that Peterson can’t still play; if we didn’t know who he was and what he could do, we would marvel at what a powerful, combustible runner Washington has. A few times every game, you see Adrian Peterson’s old lateral burst. Most recently, it came on his 41-yard scamper against the Packers, when he made run-stopping monster Kenny Clark miss in the backfield.
3. I’m on record saying I don’t think Alex Smith will be a great fit in a Jay Gruden system that demands assertive timing-and-rhythm throws. But if Smith’s last outing—the 31-17 Week 3 win over Green Bay—is a harbinger for the rest of 2018, I’ll look foolish. Smith’s 46-yard touchdown bomb to Paul Richardson and especially his nine-yard touchdown laser to Jamison Crowder were exactly the type of “turn it loose” throws he’s avoided throughout his career. Let’s not crown the man yet, though. Recall that Smith was most people’s MVP through the first trimester of last season. But after a 5–0 start, Smith wavered, the Chiefs went 5–7 and eventually turned to Patrick Mahomes.
Bold Prediction: Brees will set the NFL’s all-time passing yards record ... before halftime.