Redskins at Vikings
Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
Let’s take a look at the pros, cons, and X factors for the Washington Redskins as they take on the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday and then I’ll give my prediction.
Here are two factors that work against a Redskins win:
—The Vikings have a solid defense led by rookie outside linebacker Anthony Barr and end Everson Griffen. They are second in the NFL in sacks with Griffen leading the way with eight. Tom Johnson, who has a cap number of $845,000, has five sacks, two more than the Redskins’ Jason Hatcher, who has a cap number is $3.75 million and a contract with $10.5 million in guaranteed money. Robert Griffin III will need to have his head on a swivel.
—With the exception of a 67-yard touchdown run in the Vikings’ season opener against the Rams, Cordarrelle Patterson has been fairly quiet this year. But the wide receiver/kick returner is still dangerous. Last year he scored four touchdowns on plays of 50 yards or longer including, of particular interest to Ben Kotwica, kickoff returns of 105 and 109 yards. Kai Forbath has done pretty well with getting kicks into the end zone lately but he’ll need to get some hang time to keep Patterson pinned down.
Here are two factors in favor of a Redskins win:
—The Redskins got their pass rush cranked up against the Cowboys, sacking Tony Romo five times. They should be able to keep it up against the Vikings, who have allowed a sack on slightly over 10 percent of pass attempts. Only one team, the Jaguars, have a worse sack rate. The Redskins may not get 10 sacks against Minnesota like they did against Jacksonville but it’s a pretty good bet that they’ll have the chance to match what they got last week.
—Teddy Bridgewater has the potential to be a pretty good quarterback one day. Right now, he’s not. The rookie out of Louisville has two touchdown passes and five interceptions on his ledger. His net yards per pass attempt, when you factor in yardage lost to sacks, is 5.5. Bridgewater has put together some key drives in the Vikings’ wins over the Falcons and Bucs so he is dangerous but he still is very much in the project phase of his development.
And two X factors:
—We know that Robert Griffin III will start at quarterback for Washington. We don’t know if we will see the uncomfortable pocket passer that was on display in Houston or the dynamic RG3 we got a brief glimpse of against the Jaguars. On top of that, we don’t know that whatever version of Griffin is on display will be effective.
—Will the running threat created by the presence of Griffin give Alfred Morris some running room? His average per carry has plummeted from 4.8 as a rookie with Griffin at his best down to 3.9 with most of the QB snaps going to Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy. It will probably take a big run or two by Griffin before the effect will kick in so we will see what RG3 can do.
So what will happen?
With the exception of the last seven games of the 2012 season, the Redskins have had difficult following up a big win with another one. In fact, besides 2012 they haven’t won three games in a row of any sort, big or little, since 2008.
So are these the same old Redskins or will the return Robert Griffin and the fact that a rookie quarterback is at the helm of the other team help Washington prevail?
This doesn’t have a good feel. Although I think the short week effect is overrated, having both ends of it on the road in a different time zone will hurt the Redskins. The Redskins are marginally more talented than the Vikings but the short week and the home field favor Minnesota.
Vikings 21, Redskins 17
(record this year 4-4)