By: Ryan Cooley
The Redskins are playing yet another primetime game. They have struggled when playing under the lights. They did just that in week 3 when they fell to the Bears 31-15. The Vikings are going to be even more difficult than Chicago.
There are a lot of players that want to revenge on their former team, so at the very least, this game will be fun to watch.
How can they win?
The heart and soul of the Vikings offense this season has been Dalvin Cook. He is on pace to finish with nearly 2,150 total yds and 17 TDs. Pro Football Focus has given Cook an 86.1 rating, which is higher than both Barkley and Zeke. The Redskins front seven must come up with a game plan to slow him down.
They will also have to get to Cousins. Nobody knows Cousins, as well as Redskins fans, do. He is an entirely different QB when in primetime. They must take advantage of that by using a variety of blitz schemes that will confuse him. Putting consistent pressure on Cousins is the best way to rattle him.
Players to watch for Washington
Case Keenum: Keenum was one game away from taking the Vikings to their fifth Super Bowl in 2017. After that season, the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins. Keenum then signed with Denver.
Reporters have asked about his return to U.S. Bank Stadium. “There’s not enough time to reminisce.” He is, of course, talking about the Minneapolis Miracle in the NFC Divisional Round against the Saints. Keenum may act like he is treating this game like any other, but I am sure he wants to prove the Vikings wrong in a primetime game.
Adrian Peterson: Peterson will go down as one of the greatest RBs of all time. After 2016, the Vikings decided to move on from him. He eventually found a home in D.C. and will look for revenge on Thursday night.
Peterson suffered a Grade 1 high ankle sprain and a Grade 2 low ankle sprain against the 49ers. He already announced this wouldn’t stop him from playing. I expect Peterson to have a big game to prove to Minnesota that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
Montez Sweat: Making Cousins uncomfortable in the pocket will be crucial, and Sweat will need to show up. He only has two sacks on the season but has shown flashes of potential. Standing at 6’6 and 260 lbs, Sweat is a physical specimen. With the right coaching, I believe he can turn into a nightmare for QBs.
Players to watch for Minnesota
Kirk Cousins: Much like Keenum, the Redskins decided to move on and pick up a new QB. Redskins fans were split between signing Cousins to a big contract. He then inked his name on a 3-year $84 million deal from the Vikings.
Cousins has been on fire the last three games with a 139.4 QB rating. However, Washington knows first hand how poor he plays in primetime. It will be interesting to see what QB shows up Thursday night. If it is the one with the 139.4 rating, expect him to light up the vulnerable Redskins secondary.
Dalvin Cook: Dalvin Cook has been a top-three RB this season, and the offense runs through him. The Redskins defense is noted as one of the worst in the league but has actually been solid at stopping the run. Pro Football Focus has them ranked as a top-10 run defense with a 76.8 grade.
Stefon Diggs: Adam Thielen has been ruled out for the game. This now leaves Diggs as their #1 WR. A few weeks ago, he wanted out of Minnesota. Between them running the ball most of the time and Thielen getting the majority of targets, Diggs felt his talents were being wasted.
Since then, they have made a conscious effort to give Diggs the ball. In the last two games, he has been targeted 19 times with 14 receptions, 309 receiving yds, and 4 TDs. With Thielen out, the Redskins may want to double cover him for most of the game.
Prediction: Vikings win 27-10
The Redskins are faced with yet another tough opponent this week. This game could be closer than many think if Cousins turns into his usual primetime self. If the offense can get going early and put the Vikings under pressure, I think they could actually escape with a win
Of course, this would mean Washington would have to play for 60 minutes. This is something they have struggled with. We have seen them make teams sweat for one or two quarters before they collapse. I believe Peterson could have a big game in which he has 100+ yds and two scores. He thrives off proving people wrong, and if the Redskins want to win, they’ll need him to do just that.