Fresh off their mid-season bye week, the Vikings today begin arguably the toughest stretch of their 2017 schedule, with five games in a row against fellow NFC playoff contenders, with four of them being on the road, including today's matchup with the Washington Redskins.
The Vikings, who sit atop the NFC North with a 6-2 record, have put themselves in great shape to make a run at a playoff berth. The fly in the ointment there however is not only the team's grueling five-game stretch it's now faced with, but also the potentially easy road in front of the second-place Detroit Lions, who are now 4-4 after Monday's win over Green Bay. The Lions have just one remaining game with a team who currently has a winning record, and that is of course the Vikings, who head to Detroit on Thanksgiving.
So, it would behoove the Vikings to win at least one of their next two games before that Turkey Day showdown in Motown to know that they will leave said game at no worse than in a tie for first place.
The Vikings traveled to Washington last season and lost 26-20 in a back-and-forth contest that ended essentially with a late Sam Bradford interception. This year, it'll be Case Keenum's turn to try and leave D.C. with a victory, as – despite Teddy Bridgewater being added to the 53-man roster on Wednesday – Head Coach Mike Zimmer named him his starter for today. Despite starting slow in some games, Keenum has done a magnificent job filling in for the injured Bradford. That being said, it could be much tougher to overcome early mistakes today, so it's important the team starts the game off well.
Minnesota's ground game was slowed to a degree against the Browns, averaging just 2.6 yards per carry, just Jerick McKinnon picked up 72 yards receiving to offset that a bit. That group will go against a Redskins defense that's 23rd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per attempt. Rest assured that the Vikings will look to keep Kirk Cousins and Co. on the sideline by establishing a running attack and keeping second and third down distances manageable for Keenum.
Cousins had a big outing against the Vikings last year, completing 22 of 33 passes for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In that game, 13 of his 22 completions went, as you'd expect, to wide receivers. However, this season, their leading pass-catcher is RB Chris Thompson with 35 receptions, with tight ends Jordan Reed (27) and Vernon Davis (23) being third and fifth on the team, respectively, in catches.
A storyline for the Vikings' defense this season has been their ability to limit running backs coming out of the backfield via the passing game, so that will surely be put to the test this afternoon.
Washington was very beat up a few weeks ago, particularly on the offensive line. They have a whopping 12 players listed as questionable for today's game, but the prevailing thought it most of their key pieces up front on offense will be back.
As for the Vikings, T Mike Remmers (concussion) was ruled out of today's game, meaning Rashod Hill will make his first NFL start filling in for him. DE Everson Griffen (foot) didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday and was limited on Friday, but Zimmer expects him to play.
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