keys to victory
1 Stop the run » An easy key considering it's really the No. 1 way St. Louis can hurt them with running back Steven Jackson. The problem for St. Louis is that its offensive line has been wrecked by injuries and wasn't good to begin with. So the Redskins must take advantage and force quarterback Sam Bradford into third-and-longs -- and then pressure him. Bradford doesn't throw a lot of picks -- 21 in 972 career attempts.
2 Beware of defensive playmakers » The main reason St. Louis nearly won at Detroit was because it intercepted three Matthew Stafford passes. They're an aggressive group, having added corners Cortland Finnegan via free agency and Janoris Jenkins in the draft. Stafford helped by staring down receivers or forcing passes at times. But Finnegan also baited him into an interception, something he'll try to do vs. Robert Griffin III. The Rams will test Griffin in ways the Saints did not and can threaten him more with their pass rushers.
3 Handle your business » There are other keys, from handling the pass rush to not turning the ball over. But the Redskins always insist a new day has dawned. Do they mean it this time? If so then the Redskins will emerge from St. Louis with a solid victory. St. Louis might be an improving team, but the Redskins are the better one. Winning this game won't guarantee the playoffs, but losing would suggest there's still plenty of work remaining.
RT Tyler Polumbus
He needs to do a much better job than last week against a tougher opponent.
DE Chris Long
Long, with 13 sacks a year ago, likes to line up wide and use his speed, as well as his hands.
NT Barry Cofield
He's not a flashy player, but he understands his role and has improved. He's stout.
C Rob Turner
He replaces Scott Wells, out with an injury. The Rams' interior could be an issue.
LB Brian Orakpo
He and Ryan Kerrigan likely will switch sides.
LT Wayne Hunter
If Rodger Saffold can't play, then the one-time Jets disaster at right tackle will start.
State of the teams
Rams » This is how bad St. Louis has been: The Rams lost a close game at Detroit last week but gained respect in the process. The Rams appear more disciplined and competent with new coach Jeff Fisher. They'll also be playing at home. But they have a long ways to go.
Redskins » The Redskins can start 2-0 for the 17th time in franchise history with a win. They've done it four times since the 1991 Super Bowl season and made the playoffs twice. But the other two times, including last year, they finished 5-11. The Redskins remain confident but business-like, buoyed by Robert Griffin III.
It's still hard to know how good the Redskins are -- or was last week just a perfect day? The Rams are tougher than expected, but the Redskins are better.
Redskins 21, Rams 13