The Vikings are looking to end their three-game losing streak and restore order in the NFC North. The Redskins are looking to come off their bye on the right foot. They'll meet at FedEx Field today for a noon CT kickoff. Here are a few final thoughts on today's game.
Vikings OL could gain confidence while running the ball toda
The Vikings struggles with injuries and lineup changes along the offensive line have been well-chronicled this season. Today in Washington, though, the group has a chance to gain some confidence by running the ball. The Redskins have allowed the ninth-most rushing yards (990) this season and they rank 31st in the NFL with a 4.9 per-carry averaged allowed and with 12 rushing touchdowns allowed. Furthermore, the Vikings will welcome Alex Boone back to the lineup today after he missed last week's game with a concussion.
Play action is key to Redskins explosive offense
The Redskins have one of the most explosive passing offenses in the NFL, with 34 passing plays of 20+ yards. A big part of their ability to throw explosively is their ability to run the ball efficiently. Washington has a season-long average of 4.5 yards per rushing attempt, which is eighth-best in the NFL. The Redskins use that rushing threat to open things up in the passing game. On 41.1% of the Redskins explosive passing gains (20+ yards), they've used play action. To slow down the passing attack, the Vikings must first demonstrate the ability to slow down the rushing attack so that the play action isn't as legitimate a threat.
Familiar coaching staff chess match will unfold today
There is a chess match of sorts every week between opposing coaching staffs. That chess match is more intriguing when the head coach of one team is defensive minded and the other head coach is offensive minded. And that chess match is at its best when there is familiarity between the head coaches. That is what we have in the Vikings-Redskins matchup today. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden worked together in Cincinnati under Marvin Lewis from 2011-13 – Zimmer was the defensive coordinator and Gruden was the offensive coordinator. The Bengals made the playoffs in each of those three seasons, with Zimmer's and Gruden's groups practicing against one another every step of the way. Today, their groups will play against one another and you can be sure both coaches still have that competitive zeal for one another.
Key matchup: DE Everson Griffen vs. LT Ty Nsekhe
Four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams will not play in this game, and it's 2009 undrafted free agent Ty Nsekhe who will start in his place. Nsekhe has spent time in the NFL, Arena Football League and Canadian Football League. Today, he'll spend his time trying to slow down one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. The Redskins are tied with the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders for having allowed the fewest sacks (11) in the NFL this season, but Williams has been a key part of that. Today's game is the first one the Redskins will play without the reliable Williams protecting QB Kirk Cousins' blindside.
Munnerlyn's streak ends; Robison keeps climbing
The Vikings announced on Saturday that nickel CB Captain Munnerlyn will not play today, which ends a consecutive games played streak of 72 for him. Munnerlyn has not missed a game since Week 17 of the 2011 season. More consequently, Munnerlyn's absence creates an interesting situation for the Vikings defense. When Munnerlyn left last week's game, it was Mackensie Alexander who stepped in, but only briefly before Terence Newman, who starts outside at cornerback, replaced Alexander. It's likely that Newman will be asked to fill in again for one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the NFL.
On the topic of games played, DE Brian Robison will play in his 151st game today. That ties him with Mark Mullaney for fourth-most by a Vikings defensive end. Next on that list is Hall of Famer Chris Doleman, who played in 154 games for the Vikings.