We’re just hours away from kickoff in Washington, D.C., and that means it’s time for everyone to make their predictions on who’s going to win this week’s contest between the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins.
As we always do, we have our weekly widget from the folks at The Crowd’s Line for your prognosticating pleasure.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been saying that it’s hard for me to imagine the Vikings playing X number of bad games in a row. With their third consecutive loss last week, they’ve gotten to the point where they really can’t afford another bad game. A loss this week would drop them out of first place in the NFC North, and would truly put a season that started out with so much promise in a lot of jeopardy.
The Redskins have a very good offense, led by quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins has had his problems this year, throwing seven interceptions to go with his 12 touchdown passes, but when he gets time he’s shown the ability to be very accurate. The Vikings caught a break this week with the (likely) absence of receiver DeSean Jackson from the Washington lineup, as he’s the Redskins’ best deep threat and had a big game against the Vikings the last time these two teams got together. The Redskins still have no shortage of talented targets, including wide receiver Jamison Crowder and tight end Jordan Reed. Reed is one of the NFL’s best at the position, and the Vikings are going to have to be wary of him at all times.
In order to disrupt the Redskins’ offense, it’s going to be paramount that the Vikings get pressure on Cousins. That means that a Minnesota pass rush that has basically disappeared during their three-game losing streak is going to have to re-establish itself. In the last three games, the Vikings have just two quarterback sacks, both coming courtesy of Everson Griffen. Teams have realized that they have to get the ball out quickly against this defense, and they’re doing that. With Jackson out of the lineup, I’d expect the Redskins to stick with the shorter passing game to keep the chains moving. If they do that, the Vikings are going to have to tackle a whole lot better than they did in crucial situations in last week’s loss. Not committing dumb penalties at the most inopportune times would probably be helpful, too.
For the Vikings, the offensive line showed signs of improvement last week, largely because quarterback Sam Bradford was taking shorter drops and getting the ball out fast. If the Vikings can continue the same sort of offensive philosophy, their pass catchers should be able to make some plays against the Redskins defense. Stefon Diggs is probably going to see a lot of Josh Norman today, so it’s going to be up to secondary receivers like Cordarrelle Patterson and Adam Thielen to get the job done. The key, however, is going to be the offensive line. They need to start getting some push in the running game against a Washington defense that isn’t great against the run, thereby allowing the offense to stay “ahead of schedule” and not find themselves in the third-and-long types of situations that have killed this offense in recent weeks.
If the Vikings’ 2016 season isn’t already spiraling out of control, it certainly would be with a fourth consecutive loss. With games against Arizona, Detroit, and Dallas coming on the schedule after this contest, the purple need to get themselves a victory here to get something positive going to start the season’s second half. In the battle of former Cincinnati Bengals’ coordinators, I think Mike Zimmer can get his defense to do just enough to slow down Jay Gruden’s offense and get the Vikings a W.
Vikings 20, Redskins 17 to save a season that could, potentially, be on the brink for the Minnesota Vikings.
That’s my pick, folks. Who have you got in this one?