Washington quarterback John Beck is Sunday's mystery man -- a quarterback who is 30 years old but who has even less experience as a starter than Carolina's Cam Newton.
Beck becomes the Redskins' 21st starting quarterback in the past 19 years, which isn't a good statistic if you're a Washington fan. The Redskins have had problems establishing a quarterback basically since Joe Theismann was running the show (Theismann, incidentally, said on a radio show this week he disagreed with the idea of benching Rex Grossman at this point).
Beck, who hasn't started a game since 2007, is more of a running quarterback than the pocket passer Grossman. Panther coach Ron Rivera this week compared Beck to Jake Plummer, who once played quarterback for current Washington coach Mike Shanahan in Denver.
-- Newton likes to say the offense is in the "moving the chains" business, and that will be a challenge Sunday. The Redskins' defense is No.1 in the NFL in third-down conversions, allowing only a 28.8 percent conversion rate.
-- Watch out for No.89 Sunday -- no matter who's on offense. Washington's Santana Moss and Carolina's Steve Smith both wear that number. They also are both 32 years old and can both still burn you deep.
-- If you wanted to make the best guess the final score of Sunday's game, based on history you'd have to go with 20-17. Of the nine times these two teams have met -- with Washington holding a 7-2 edge -- that's been the score in four of the games. Weird.
Eight of those nine games were decided by four points or less. I believe Sunday will be another close one, but I'll steer away from the 20-17 outcome. I'm 16-5 over the Panthers' last 21 games after missing on my upset pick last week -- I incorrectly thought Carolina would beat Atlanta.
This time, I'm basing my pick on the fact that the Skins generally are playing better defense than Carolina is -- I just don't trust the Panthers' defense right now, particularly against the run.