With the Redskins on offense and the Steelers on defense, the key statistic will be yards per pass attempt. That's because a difference of one yard from the league average of 5.7 is worth 3 1/2 points in the winning margin. The Redskins' 4.7 yards per pass ranks 26th, and the Steelers' defense ranks third, allowing 4.8.

If the teams play according to statistical form, this difference would be worth almost six points to the Steelers.

But the Redskins have changed: Jay Schroeder replaces Joe Theismann at quarterback and Gary Clark has taken such hold as a regular pass receiver that Malcolm Barnwell is gone and Calvin Muhammad sits.

Monday's 7.4 yards per pass attempt was the first time in 11 games the Redskins were above the league average. Schroeder, coming on after Theismann's leg was broken in the second quarter, had an 11-yard average.

Can we assume Schroeder will continue at the 11-yard level? No. No quarterback has averaged more than nine yards per attempt in a season since Green Bay's Bart Starr. The best recent effort was Dan Marino's 8.56 last season.

It is within reason, however, to give Schroeder a guesstimate -- seven yards per pass -- which puts him near the season leaders (San Diego's Dan Fouts at 7.07, Marino at 7.03).

Computer projection: Steelers by three, but if the passing efficiency statistics improve, the Redskins are very much in this game.