One week after suffering his first NFL injury Robert Griffin III attempts to get his Washington Redskins back on track in their week six match up against Adrian Peterson and the red-hot Minnesota Vikings. Last week in the Redskins 24-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, RG3 suffered a concussion following a vicious hit to the helmet by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon early in the third quarter. Griffin was cleared for on-filed action earlier this week on will have to deal with trying to cool down one of the league’s hottest teams in the Vikings.
The 4-1 Vikings enter the game winners of their last three games including a shocking 24-13, upset over the San Francisco 49ers in week three which began the streak. Minnesota’s defense is the driving force behind the teams unexpected success and currently ranks seventh in the NFL in offensive yards allowed per game (304.2 yards), 15th in passing yards allowed per game (225.6 yards) and sixth in both rushing yards allowed per game (78.6 yards) and points allowed per game (15.8 points).
The teams offense is a bit average ranking 20th in offensive yards gained per game (344 yards), 24th in passing yards gained per gained per game (210.8) and 14th in points scored per game (24 points) but are amongst the best in rushing yards per game ranking ninth in that category (133.2 yards).
Peterson is the major reason they gain so many yards on the ground per game and so far this season he has carries the ball 92 times for 420 yards and two trips to the end zone. The fine play of second-year signal caller Christian Ponder has to be the biggest surprise of the season so far for the Vikes as he has passed for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns while tossing just two interceptions and completing 69% of his attempts.
Ponder’s main targets are wideout Percy Harvin (39 receptions for 407 yards and a TD) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (19 receptions for 169 yards and 4 TD); if Minnesota is to win their fourth straight then they will both need to make some huge plays down field.
The defense is led by linebacker Chad Greenway (53 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 pass deflections) and All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen (11 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 tackles for a loss, 2 pass deflections and a forced fumble); these two beasts will need to get pressure early and often on RG3 to have him indecisive and shaky with his play both in and out of the pocket.
The 2-3 Redskins are phenomenal on offense but terrible on defense which is why their record is what it is. The Skins rank seventh in offensive yards gained per game (400.6 yards), 17th in passing yards gained per game (238 yards), fourth in rushing yards per game (162.2 yards) and eighth in points scored per game (28 points) while their defense is 26th in offensive yards allowed per game (416.4 yards), 31st in passing yards allowed per game (328.6 yards), 10th in rushing yards allowed per game (87.8 yards) and 28th in points allowed per game (29.4 points).
Griffin III is having a great start to his rookie season passing for 1,161 yards and four touchdowns while tossing just a single interception and completing 69.1% of his attempts along with rushing for 241 yards and four trips to the end zone on 42 carries. Running back Alfred Morris has been one of the biggest surprises in the NFL season, rushing for 491 yards (4th in NFL) and four touchdowns on 100 carries.
Pierre Garcon has finally returned to the lineup following injury and he could be a big-time factor in the passing game for Washington along with tight end Fred Davis (20 receptions for 266 yards) in keeping the Minnesota defense honest against the run.
The Redskins will need a much better effort out of their defense if they want to keep pace with the Vikes and that mean that Ryan Kerrigan (17 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 tackles for a loss and 4 pass deflections) must play at an extremely high level to make up for some of the losses due to injury that this unit has suffered.
The Vikings are just a much better team than the Redskins are at this point in the season and it will show during the course of the football game. I’ll take Minnesota 27 – Washington 20 in this one.