Here are five keys to the Washington Redskins-Minnesota Vikings game plus a prediction.
1. The Redskins are on the road playing against a 1-7 team in a building that can get very loud if the home team is doing well but can get very quiet if the Vikings are down. It would seem to be important for the Redskins to get on top early in this one and get the crowd out of the game. Kyle Shanahan agrees. “I haven’t played there in a few years, but the last time I was there I barely could hear myself think,” he said. “It can get real loud and those people can get going. And the crowd will be a factor. It’s always going to be a factor on third downs and crucial situations, and the better you can get off to a start, the quieter they get. It’s something we’d obviously like to do.”
2. On the defensive side, one thing the Redskins would obviously like to do is to get after Christian Ponder. He’s been sacked 15 times in his five starts and that was with a healthy offensive line. Injuries will force to Vikings to sit right tackle Phil Loadholt (concussion) and probably left guard Charlie Johnson (elbow). That will break up an O-line combo that has started every game since the start of the 2012 season. If they can take advantage of the backups, look for a multi sack game from Ryan Kerrigan and possibly Barry Cofield.
3. The Redskins could jump out to a fast start and get pressure on Ponder and then have Cordarrelle Patterson undo all of the good they’ve done. He’s averaged 36.7 yards on 22 kickoff returns; that’s a big chunk of field position. And you can’t stop him by kicking deep in the end zone. One of his TD’s was a 109-yard runback so it’s obvious that he’ll run it out from anywhere. Kai Forbath either needs to boom it into the first row of the stands or pooch it with hang time down to the 10. If I’m the Redskins I’ll take my chances with Ponder and even Adrian Peterson with decent field position over a quick six from Patterson.
4. Yes, we all know that the Redskins are 10-1 when Alfred Morris gets 20 or more carries in the game. But it’s not all that simple. If it was, then Kyle Shanahan would simply call for Robert Griffin III to hand off to Morris on the first 20 snaps of the game and call it a day. For Morris to get to 20 carries, the passing game has to be working so the defense doesn’t stack to box to stop him. It also helps if Griffin can get his wheels moving to give the defense something else to guard against. In any case, the numbers don’t lie. In 2012 Morris had 20 or more carries three times in the Redskins’ first nine games. The team’s record was 3-6 (2-1 in Morris’ 20+ carry games). In the final seven games he carried at least 20 times in every game. The Redskins, of course, went 7-0.
5. No matter what the pass rush, special teams, and Morris do, it’s going to be hard for the Redskins to win unless Griffin can, for the first time this year, put up a second solid game in a row. Since the bye he has twice completed 50 percent or less of his passes and has posted the two worst single-game passer ratings of his career. Not surprisingly, the Redskins lost those two games. He has twice has a completion percentage of 62 or better and passer ratings of over 85. The Redskins are 2-0 in those games. They are not good enough to overcome a bad game by their quarterback.
It says here that the Redskins rack up five sacks of Ponder, Morris gets his 20 carries and Griffin plays well enough for the Redskins to pull out the win:
Redskins 24, Vikings 14