The Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders have just one combined victory through three weeks. Yet the matchup is still attracting a lot of attention, mostly due to the intense focus on both quarterbacks heading into Week 4.
Terrelle Pryor has been a pleasant surprise for the Raiders. His progress has been slowed by concussion, however, which left his status up in the air throughout the week. On the flip side, Robert Griffin III is still working his way back to full strength after a knee injury.
Add in that both teams, especially Washington, are desperate for a victory to get their seasons trending in the right direction, and the game has plenty of intrigue. So let's take a closer look at some of the top storylines to watch throughout the contest.
Terrelle Pryor's Injury
Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported that Pryor had a setback in his recovery from a concussion on Saturday night. The Raiders quickly decided to shift focus to Matt Flynn starting the game to make sure their emerging starter could get back to full health.
As for Pryor, once he showed slightest sign of concussion last night they made switch to Flynn and informed team, very cautious w Pryor— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) September 29, 2013
Playing it safe is the right move. Pryor has done more in the first three weeks than expected, making plays with both his arm and his legs to provide a boost to the Raiders offense. They don't want to risk a more serious injury by rushing him back.
The onus falls on Flynn to pick up the slack. Fans will remember the six-touchdown performance he put together with the Green Bay Packers two years ago. But he's been unable to show that type of ability on a consistent basis when given chances to earn jobs in Seattle and Oakland.
It's hard to think the Raiders offense will be anywhere near as dangerous with him under center, though.
Robert Griffin III Under Pressure
Last season, Griffin had just five interceptions in nearly 400 attempts. He's already thrown four picks in less than 150 attempts this season. The biggest difference has been the lack of explosive running plays to keep defenses honest.
What's the biggest story heading into the game?
When there's an extra defender in the secondary instead of guarding against a Griffin run, the throwing lanes are a little bit more narrow and it leads to more mistakes. So even though he's averaging 325 passing yards per game, his overall efficiency is down.
Until he can prove the knee is no longer a factor and force defenses to respect the run, it will be difficult for the Redskins to win shootouts, which is the only type of game they are playing right now. The defense is giving Griffin and Co. no support.
But, ultimately, the focus always comes back to the quarterback, and Griffin isn't showing the same level of playmaking quite yet in 2013.
Redskins Defense's Dreadful Start
The New Orleans Saints defense was awful last season. The unit allowed 440 yards per game, nearly 60 more than any other team. Although it's still early, the Redskins defense is doing even worse, giving up nearly 490 yards per contest. And opponents have scored at least 27 points in every game.
Washington could use the excuse that it has played three tough offenses, which is true, but providing that little resistance isn't acceptable, regardless of the team on the other side.
One of the main problems has been a lack of key plays. The Redskins have recovered just two fumbles, intercepted only one pass and Ryan Kerrigan is the only player with more than one sack. It's hard to slow down high-powered offenses without those type of plays.
The Raiders without Pryor don't have as much big-play potential, so it's time for the Washington defense to step up to help begin the turnaround before it's too late.