LOCATION: FedEx Field (Landover, MD)
BETTING LINE: WAS (-3.5)
VIKINGS PLAYER TO WATCH
The young wide receiver recorded a career-high 13 receptions in last week’s overtime loss to Detroit. Diggs averaged just 6.2 yards on those 13 grabs, significantly lower than his season average. This can be attributed to the Vikings shift to more conservative short passes under interim offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. This can end up as a positive, as Diggs’ quick feet will be able to shake defenders off a short route or open up the chance for a surprise deep threat.
REDSKINS PLAYER TO WATCH
Norman currently leads the league in penalties with 13, five coming in a single game against the Bengals (“Who’s official #88?”). Despite this, Norman says he will not change the way he plays and head coach Jay Gruden doesn’t seem worried about controlling the on-field aggression either.
This week will see Norman matched up against the young, speedy Stefon Diggs. Diggs can expect a very physical game from Norman, similar to the one he put up against AJ Green in London two weeks ago.
VIKINGS POSITION GROUP PREVIEW
The solution for Minnesota’s offensive line struggles seems to be shifting into a quick pass offense. By limiting the amount of time Bradford needs to be in the pocket, they limit the chances pressure getting to him. However, this change does not address the struggling run game.
Kyle Rudolph is currently tied for 1st in touchdowns amongst tight ends with four this season. However, three of those came in the first four games of the season as he was only recently able to break his dry spell.
Sam Bradford completed a season-high 77.5% of his passes last week. This new short passing philosophy seems to be working thus far, but still needs to equate to touchdowns.
GAME PREVIEW ANALYSIS
After a gut-wrenching loss to Detroit last week, the Vikings are traveling to the nation’s capital to take on the Redskins who are coming off a bye. This game is important for both teams as they try to remain in contention in their respective divisions.
Washington looks to have the offensive advantage, out-gaining Minnesota in average yards per game 410.2 to 298.8. However, Minnesota has been one of the most formidable defensive teams in the league this year. With an average of 298.9 yards allowed per game, the Vikings are sitting at 3rd overall in team defense, compared to the Redskins sitting at 22nd in team defense.
This game is going to come down the each defense’s ability to contain the rush. Washington has struggled against the run game throughout much of the season. Luckily for them, the Vikings are averaging just 72.6 rushing yards per game without Adrian Peterson.
Meanwhile the Vikings defense has been stellar against the run, allowing an average of 93.1 yards per game. Washington’s run game has slowly begun emerging, and this needs to be the game where this corps proves themselves.
The Redskins will host another NFC North team next week when they play the Green Bay Packers. Minnesota will be back home next week to take on the Arizona Cardinals.
Fun Fact: Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs and Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller played high school football together at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Olney, Md. The two won three Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles together between 2009-2011.
REDSKINS POSITION GROUP RATINGS
This will be Washington’s first contest without Pro-Bowl LT Trent Williams, who was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Coming in for relief will be Ty Nsekhe.
Cousins’s favorite target Jordan Reed may have some trouble against this impressive Minnesota defense. The Vikings are one of just three teams in the league that has not allowed a touchdown by a tight end.
Kirk Cousins continues to hover among the top five quarterbacks in the league. Last year coming off the bye week marked the emergence of Cousins as an impressive quarterback. If he can continue that trend this week, the Redskins will continue vying for a spot in the NFC playoff tree.