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The Skinny Post: Vikings Kick Off 2nd Half of Season in Washington

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings are back at it after a weekend off and will resume the second half of the 2017 season Sunday against Washington.

Minnesota is 6-2, atop the NFC North and is currently riding a four-game win streak.

Washington is 4-4 after rallying for a last-minute win in Seattle last weekend.

Here are three areas to watch in Sunday's contest, plus some noteworthy stats on both teams:

Battle in the trenches | By@pcraigers

The Redskins offensive line has been "battered and bruised" in the words of Washington Head Coach Jay Gruden.

Right tackle Morgan Moses was the only player listed on the first-team offensive line to start last week when Washington toppled Seattle.

The only two players that the Redskins ruled out on Friday were defensive linemen Matt Ioannidis and Arthur Jones. Left Tackle Trent Williams, a five-time Pro Bowler, is listed as questionable, along with starting left guard Shawn Lauvao, center Spencer Long and right guard Brandon Scherff. Backup tackle Ty Nsekhe also was listed as questionable.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Friday that Minnesota anticipates most of Washington's starters to play. He also noted the staff has done its homework on Redskins reserves, which include former Viking T.J. Clemmings.

"We try to prepare for every guy that is on there," Zimmer said. "We've written up all of their guys that were hurt, their backups. We make sure that we're prepared."

Minnesota's defensive line is one of his strongest and deepest position groups, and that could be tested stringently for the first time this season.

Everson Griffen and Stephen Weatherly were both listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week. The Vikings also have veteran Brian Robison, third-year pro Danielle Hunter and rookie Tashawn Bower at defensive end.

Being balanced | By@EricLSmith

The Vikings fell short a year ago in Washington as they lost 26-20, but it wasn't without a strong performance from Stefon Diggs.

The Vikings wide receiver, making a return to the area he grew up in, had a season-high 13 catches for 164 yards.

While it's possible Diggs has a double-digit catch total again this game, it's unlikely given the way how offensively balanced the Vikings have been this season.

Quarterback Case Keenum has done a solid job of spreading the ball around to various targets, and the Vikings have an impactful running game that was missing this time a year ago.

Minnesota ranks ninth with 120 rushing yards per game this season. The Vikings were last in the NFL in rushing last season with just 75.3 yards per game.

Diggs may not get a plethora of catches this time around, but he and the Vikings will trade individual stats for a team win.

Starting the second half strong | By@LindseyMNSports

A heavy topic of discussion among media members throughout the week was playing after a bye. The Vikings started the 2016 season 5-0 before their break in Week 6. After last season's bye, they experienced a slide they couldn't slow and ultimately finished 8-8.

Players have been asked what can be done to avoid such a slump, and each one has emphasized that it's a different year, different team, and that the Vikings are focused on their business.

"Go back to what we did well and what makes us a good football team. That's coming out and being tough, smart and physical," Kyle Rudolph said Wednesday. "As long as we fall back on that, we'll like what our results are."

The Redskins .500 record can be deceiving when considering the tough teams they've faced thus far, and the Vikings won't be taking them lightly. Rather, Minnesota will look to start the second half strong and improve to 7-2 before heading back to U.S. Bank Stadium for next week's matchup against the Rams.

Substantial Stats

— The Vikings defense ranks third in points allowed per game (16.9) and is fourth in yards allowed per game (282.1). Minnesota is one of three teams, along with Carolina and Jacksonville, to rank in the top four in both categories.

— Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has at least five receptions in every game this season and is the only player in the NFL to do so. He ranks eighth with 627 yards and is 11th with 48 catches.

— Minnesota's defense is second in the NFL on third-down defense as opponents have converted just 27.7 percent (28 out of 101) of their chances. Washington has converted 38 of 102 third downs (37.3 percent, 22nd in the NFL).

— Vikings kicker Kai Forbath has 75 total points this season, which ranks fourth in the NFL. Forbath has hit on 21 of 22 field goal opportunities.


"We're just trying to get better each week. We're not going to talk about first half of the season. We're just going to start moving forward here." — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

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