The Washington Redskins will host the Minnesota Vikings in an important NFC clash at FedEx Field on Sunday, November 12. The game will be televised by the Fox with kickoff slated for 1 p.m. (ET).
The Redskins and Vikings enter the second half of the season in the midst of the NFC playoff race. The Redskins (4-3-1) own the conference’s sixth-best record. They currently sit in the final wild card spot, a-half game ahead of several teams. In the meanwhile, the Vikings (5-3) sit in the conference’s No. 4 spot as they lead the North division by a game over the Green Bay Packers.
Washington is coming off their Week 9 bye. The Redskins are winless in their last two games, tying the Cincinnati Bengals (27-27) in London on October 27. They fell to the Detroit Lions 20-17 the previous week, which snapped the Skins’ four-game winning streak.
Minnesota had the NFL’s best record through the first five weeks of the season. But the Vikings have since lost three straight with their latest setback coming against the Detroit Lions (22-16) in a heart breaker on November 7. Trailing 13-9 late in the fourth quarter, the Vikes went ahead 16-13 on a one-yard plunge by Rhett Ellison with 27 seconds left. But Lions’ kicker Matt Prater booted a 58-yard field goal as time expired to send the game to overtime. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford then marched the Lions down the field 87 yards on the opening possession of the extra period, hooking up with wide receiver Golden Tate for a 28-yard touchdown on third and eight from the Vikes 28 yard line.
This will be the 25th meeting ever between Minnesota and Washington. The all-time series is tied at 12 though the Vikings have won seven-of-the-last-10 meetings, including the last meeting which was November 2, 2014. The Vikes are also 4-2 in games at FedEx Field.
Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford will not throw an interception
Bradford is known for being a smart quarterback who has done an excellent job at taking care of the ball this year. The 29-year-old veteran has been picked off just one time in 242 pass attempts. He has completed a career-high 68.3 percent of his passes this year. Bradford is also on pace to have his highest yards per attempt average (7.06).
A big reason that Bradford has not thrown many interceptions is the Vikings offense predicates itself on quick, short throws. Bradford completed 31-of-40 passes for 273 yards versus the Lions though he only went deep once. He has completed 21 passes for 20 or more yards this year, which ranks 20th in the league.
Josh Norman is one of the best corners in the NFL, but he only has one interception and has been flagged a league-high 13 times with 10 of those being accepted per NFL Penalties. He has been called for illegal use of hands five times, pass interference five times, and holding once. Norman is not the only Redskins’ defensive back that has been flagged a ton as cornerback Bashaud Breeland has been flagged five times (pass interference (1), defensive holding (1) and illegal use of hands (1)). Washington’s defense has been penalized 26 times in total, which is the sixth-most in the league.
Washington has done a pretty good job in pass defense overall. The Redskins are permitting the 15th most passing yards in the league with 246.0 yards per game as they have twice permitted 300-yard passing games by quarterbacks. The Skins have given up the sixth-fewest touchdown passes (8), broken up 30 passes though they have only picked off five passes. Quarterbacks have registered an 89.9 rating against the Skins, which ranks as the 12th lowest in the league.
Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan will record a sack
A big reason why the Skins’ pass defense is doing well despite the lack of interceptions is that they get a lot of pressure on the quarterback. The Redskins have registered the seventh-most sacks in the league with 22. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan leads the way with seven sacks while defensive end Trent Murphy has six.
Kerrigan has made a living out of getting after quarterbacks, registering 54.5 sacks in his six-year career. He has gotten at least one sack in four consecutive games.
Special teams play will impact the game
Both Washington and Minnesota have been shaky on special teams. They both have dangerous return men, but their kicking game leaves a lot to be desired.
The Vikings rank seventh in kickoff returns at 23.9 yards and sixth in punt returns at 12.1. Cordarrelle Patterson is always a threat to go all the way, averaging 27.7 per kick return — which is the second highest in the league. He has returned four kickoffs for a touchdown in his career. Punt returner Marcus Sherels is just as dangerous as he tops the league with two touchdown returns this year.
As for the kicking part of the equation, place kicker Blair Walsh ranks near the bottom of the league as he made 12-of-16 field goal attempts along with 13-of-16 PATs. Walsh missed an extra point while also having one of his field goal attempts blocked last week versus Detroit. Punter Jeff Locke also rank in the bottom third of the league.
The Redskins have nearly been as good in the return game. The Skins rank 13th in the league in kick returns (22.2) and leads the league in punt returns with a 17.6 average. Punt returner Jamison Crowder always makes things exiting when he gets a chance to return a punt. He has returned one punt for a touchdown this season.
Kicker Dustin Hopkins has struggled lately, converting only 3-of-his-last-5 field goal attempts. He is 18-of-22 on field goals this year, and 17-of-18 on extra points. Punter Tress Way has not been very good this year, averaging 44.2 yards per punt with a net of 37.2.
Minnesota will pick of at least one Kirk Cousins pass and hold him under 300 passing yards
Cousins has been pretty productive this season. He ranks fourth in the league in passing yards per game with 307 as he completes 67 percent of his passes.
Cousins has four 300-yard games this season. He is coming off a career performance against Cincinnati, completing 38-of-56 passes for 458 yards along with two touchdowns and one interception. He has thrown a pick in four-of-his-last-five games and has seven interceptions on the year.
Minnesota is given up a paltry 204 passing yards a game, which ranks fourth in the league. The Vikes are also holding opposing quarterbacks to 57.6 completion percentage (second-best in the league). The Vikings have 10 interceptions. Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Andrew Sendejo lead the way with two interceptions apiece.
Vikings will win in a nail-biter
Washington is favored by 3.0 per Oddsshark.
Minnesota has been the most consistent team. The Vikings have the better defense and they don’t turn over the ball.
[Featured Image by Tim Ireland/AP Images]