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Vikings-Redskins: 5 Storylines To Watch

Posted Nov 4, 2013

The Vikings tour of the NFC East continues Thursday night, as they are set to host the Washington Redskins on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football. This will be the fourth consecutive year the Vikings and Redskins have met in the regular season, with the Vikings having won two of the previous three matchups.

Let’s take a look at five storylines to watch this week as the Vikings and Redskins prepare to battle…

1. Quick turnaround for both teams
Complaints will fall on deaf ears across the League because every NFL team is tasked with playing a Thursday night game this season, but the Vikings and Redskins must turn the page quickly from last weekend’s games and focus on their upcoming contest. At this stage in the season it’s difficult enough to be ready for a game with six days of rest – this week the Vikings and Redskins get just three days, and the Redskins have a two-plus hour flight to Minnesota on top of it all.

Vikings

2. Can the Vikings defend Robert Griffin III and the read-option?
In last year’s matchup at FedEx Field, the Vikings had difficulty defending Robert Griffin III and the Redskins read-option attack. RG3 was a true dual threat, rushing for 138 of the Redskins 183 yards on the ground, including a 76-yard scoring run that iced the game in the 4th quarter, and off of that success on the ground the elusive quarterback was also able to complete 17 of 22 passes for 182 yards with a touchdown and an interception. While the read-option has been a less dominant element of the Redskins offensive attack this season, it’s still something they do well and could pull out as the exclusive attack at any time. Don’t be surprised if Washington tests the Vikings defense by using the scheme early in this game.

3. Two powerful running backs are gaining steam
This week’s matchup pits the NFL’s top two rushers from last season against one another – the Vikings Adrian Peterson led the NFL with 2,097 yards and the Redskins Alfred Morris was second with 1,613. So far this season both runners are behind last year’s pace, but both are also coming off 100-yard rushing performance a week and appear to be picking up steam. Peterson carried the ball 25 times for 140 yards and one score against the Dallas Cowboys, while Morris also logged 25 carries and picked up 121 yards and a score against San Diego. Washington boasts the NFL’s fifth-best rushing attack, averaging 146.3 yards per game on the ground.

Vikings

4. Redskins outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo present significant challenge
The Vikings offense will be preparing for a Redskins defense that features an odd-man front and that boasts a pair of terrific defenders at outside linebacker in Ryan Kerrigan (on the defensive left side) and Brian Orakpo (on the defensive right side). Both defenders spend much of their time rushing the passer, with Kerrigan already at 6.5 sacks for the season and Orakpo at 3.0. In last season’s matchup, Orakpo didn’t play (injury) and the Vikings held Kerrigan (two tackles) in check.

5. Injuries mounting for Vikings
The Vikings were banged up going into last weekend, and the injury situation only got worse during the course of the game. Right tackle Phil Loadholt (concussion), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (knee) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot) all were unable to finish the game, with Loadholt and Rudolph unlikely to play on Thursday night. Left guard Charlie Johnson (elbow) and cornerback Josh Robinson (chest) were also listed with new injuries, so their status bears monitoring throughout the week. Others who will be listed on this week’s injury report include Matt Asiata, Rhett Ellison, Fred Evans, Letroy Guion, Jamarca Sanford, Chris Cook and Chad Greenway.

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