Teams run hot and cold. Frequently, they will have their best and worst efforts back to back.
The Redskins, for example, rushed for 60 yards in the second week, but had their best effort, 243 rushing yards, against the Cowboys in Week 7. They followed that with 103 yards against the Cardinals in a losing effort last Sunday.
On another key stat, yards per pass attempt, Joe Theismann had 10.5 yards per pass against Dallas but fell off to 5.8 yards per attempt the following week against St. Louis.
This variation is the main reason you can't often beat the line. Consider the example of yards per pass attempt: one yard per pass attempt over the league average is worth three points in the winning margin. The Redskins earned 10-plus one week and only five-plus the following week. This five-yard variation is worth 15 points in the winning margin.
Against the New York Giants this week, the Redskins' defense faces the league's weakest rushing offense. Washington leads the league in allowing the fewest first downs rushing per game (4.2), the fewest yards rushing per game (84) and fewest rushes per game (24); the Giants trail the league in rushing yards per carry (2.8).
It is unlikely the Giants will score on the ground.
In the air, however, New York quarterback Phil Simms started off the season throwing 12.5 yards per pass, but has been hot and cold since. The Redskins' defense has shown itself vulnerable to an efficient passing offense. It appears the Giants' hopes for a victory depend on their quarterback's arm.
But if the two teams play to their statistical form, the computer shows an eight-point advantage for Washington on rushing defense and a 10-point victory.