MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-2) AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS (4-4)
KICKOFF: Sunday, noon
SERIES HISTORY: 21st regular-season meeting. Series tied, 10-10. The Vikings are 6-5 at Washington. The teams have played five postseason games, with Washington winning three. The most famous — or infamous for Vikings fans — was Washington’s 17-10 victory in the NFC title game at Washington during the 1987 season. The Vikings had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but running back Darrin Nelson dropped a short pass from Wade Wilson that would have been a touchdown. The teams met last year in Washington, with the Redskins winning, 26-20.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Vikings come off their bye week with a two-game lead in the NFC North and a returning quarterback. For the first time since dislocating his knee almost 15 months ago, Teddy Bridgewater is on the active roster.
Case Keenum, 5-2 as a starter since replacing Sam Bradford, is expected make his seventh start of the season for Minnesota. “Case has done great,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “We’ll just keep going from there and see how this thing all plays out.”
Hitting the road against a good team with a capable quarterback, the Vikings need to flex the muscles that have made them a top-10 team running the ball and defending the run. They rank ninth in rushing (120.0) and third in run defense (81.4). Washington ranks 21st in rushing and 16th in run defense.
The Redskins, coming off a 17-14 upset win in Seattle, got a big offensive line boost this week. Left guard Shawn Lauvo, center Spencer Long and right guard Brandon Scherff all returned to practice.
“Certainly, guys are getting back in the flow,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden told The Washington Post. “Now it’s a matter of getting ’em back up to speed and making sure we get ’em mentally right, as well as physically. Looking a little bit better.”
The Redskins hope the offensive line help will bolster a running game that managed just 51 yards on 23 carries against the Seahawks.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
–Redskins RB Chris Thompson vs. Vikings MLB Eric Kendricks. Thompson leads the Redskins in rushing, receiving and kick returns. He’s a versatile fifth-year veteran who will require special attention from the Vikings’ leading tackler. Thompson is averaging 4.9 yards per carry with two rushing touchdowns. He also has 35 catches and three touchdowns in the passing game. Kendricks has 61 tackles, eighth-best in the NFC, and is becoming one of the league’s better coverage guys at his position.
–Redskins LT T.J. Clemmings or Ty Nsekhe vs. Vikings DE Everson Griffen. The Redskins’ left tackle situation looks a lot like the Vikings’ left tackle situation last year, when injuries caused the Vikings to use five players. One of them was Clemmings. He, like the others, failed and left at season’s end. In Washington, the Redskins have an unstable situation in that their best player, Trent Williams, and his backup, Nsekhe, have been injured. Clemmings started last week in Seattle. If he has to start again this week, he will face Griffen, who has 10 sacks and knows every weakness that Clemmings has.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Vikings QB Case Keenum. The Vikings activated Teddy Bridgewater from PUP on Wednesday, but Keenum will start in Washington. Keenum has led Minnesota to four straight wins. Eventually, the Vikings will work Bridgewater back into the starting lineup, but he hasn’t played since the 2016 preseason.
FAST FACTS: Vikings QB Case Keenum has three TD passes and one interception in his past two road games. … RB Jerrick McKinnon had 122 yards from scrimmage (72 receiving) and ran for a touchdown in Week 8. He has 424 scrimmage yards and four TDs in his past four games. … WR Adam Thielen had 98 yards receiving and a TD a week ago. … DE Everson Griffen has a sack in each of the first eight games — the third player since 1982 to do so. He has two sacks and a fumble recovery in his past three games vs. Washington. … LB Eric Kendricks is aiming for his third straight game with nine or more tackles. … S Andrew Sendejo had a career-high 16 tackles against Washington Nov. 7, 2013. … Washington QB Kirk Cousins passed for 262 yards with two TDs in the last meeting. … RB Rob Kelley rushed for 97 yards in the last meeting. He had two rushing TDs in Week 9, his second career multi-TD game. … RB Chris Thompson leads NFL RBs in receiving yards (453) and is second in receiving TDs (3). … TE Vernon Davis ledWashington with six receptions for 72 yards last week. He has four TD catches in his past four meetings. … WR Josh Doctson had a career-high 59 receiving yards in Week 9. He is averaging 19.6 yards per catch in his career. … LB Ryan Kerrigan has 4.5 sacks and an interception in his past four home games. … LB Zach Brown leads the NFL with 86 tackles. He had 11 tackles and a sack last week. … CB Josh Norman has two interceptions and a forced fumble in his past two games vs. NFC North teams.
PREDICTION: The Redskins are still dealing with a slew of injuries, and Case Keenum has been efficient for the Vikings. Washington has an underrated defense, but Minnesota has just enough weapons to pull out a road win.
OUR PICK: Vikings, 19-17.
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(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)