WASHINGTON -- The Best Team That Money Can Buy takes the field at RFK Stadium tonight.
For the first time since they left the Metrodome as Super Bowl XXVI champions last January, the Washington Redskins will have their team intact when they play host to the Minnesota Vikings in their final preseason game this year.
There's one major difference in this year's team: Their wallets are fatter than they were last January.
It cost owner Jack Kent Cooke more than $26 million to sign four holdouts -- quarterback Mark Rypien, cornerback Darrell Green, offensive tackle Jim Lachey and Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard.
Last year, the Redskins didn't have a single player among the league's 25 highest-paid. This year, they've got to fight the fat-cat syndrome as they try to repeat.
That's why their performance tonight might be a barometer of whether they'll be ready for the Monday night opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 7.
They're 1-3 in preseason games, and they got pushed all over the field last week in Los Angeles by the Raiders. Only two Martin Mayhew interception returns for touchdowns and Brian Mitchell's kickoff return for a touchdown allowed Washington to escape with a 27-23 victory.
This time, they'll have their team together with Green at the left corner and Lachey at left tackle. And they're expected to take their first look at Howard.
Lachey said: "I'm sure we're going to come back now that we have the whole team complete."
Green said he's eager to have the Vikings come right at him and test him.
"Let them throw the whole house. Let them bring them all. That's going to help me. I don't want an easy day," Green said.
If the Vikings' three preseason games are any indication, he won't have one.
Under former coach Jerry Burns, the Vikings were noted for being underachievers. New coach Dennis Green appears to be trying to change that.
The Vikings are 3-0, and they clobbered the Cleveland Browns, 56-3, last week, scoring on eight of 10 possessions. It could have been worse, but the Vikings killed the clock inside the Browns 5-yard line at the end of the game.
Green got rid of such big-name players as Herschel Walker, Keith Millard, Joey Browner and Wade Wilson and brought in former Redskin assistant coach Jack Burns to install a version of the Redskins offense.
The result is that they've outscored their three foes, 110-6, beating the Buffalo Bills, 24-3, and the Kansas City Chiefs, 30-0, before stunning Cleveland.
Preseason games, of course, are often misleading, but coming into RFK to meet the defending Super Bowl champions in their home opener will be a good test for the Vikings.
They'll find out if they can catch the Redskins sitting on their wallets.