The Washington Redskins‘ Week 9 victory over the San Diego Chargers has renewed the confidence of the Redskins’ faithful in their team. Despite a 3-5 record, Washington can draw inspiration from last season’s seven-game winning streak. That winning streak came after a 3-6 start in 2012, and it propelled them into the playoffs.
The Redskins’ Week 10 opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, look like an inferior opponent on paper. The Vikings have struggled at quarterback, shuffling between Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman as their starter. The saying goes “if you have two players at quarterback (or in this case, three), you really have no one at quarterback.” Minnesota ranks 27th in the NFL in total defense, and also ranks 31st in third-down conversions allowed on defense. Considering Washington’s recent resurgence on offense, it appears there are some opportunities to take advantage of the Vikings’ defense.
But the Redskins would be foolish to look past Minnesota. The Vikings feature running back Adrian Peterson, the 2012 NFL Offensive Player of the Year. Peterson will get his yards against a Redskins’ defense that still continues to struggle containing opposing offenses. Containing Peterson will be the main focus of Washington’s defense.
However, Peterson isn’t the only player who should concern Washington. Rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson leads the NFL in average per kickoff return, averaging almost 37 yards per return. Patterson also recorded two touchdowns on kickoff returns, including a 109-yard return against the Green Bay Packers. If not for the exploits of Peterson, Patterson might be the most dangerous offensive player on Minnesota’s roster.
Vikings’ defensive end Jared Allen is still capable of wreaking havoc on the defensive front. Washington’s offensive line played well against the Chargers, paving the way for the Redskins to rush for 209 yards while not allowing quarterback Robert Griffin III to be sacked. Let’s see if the Redskins’ offensive front can slow Allen in an effort to duplicate their feats from the Chargers’ game.
Washington will need to master the field position game, as well. Their offense will need to embark on long, time-consuming drives that result preferably in touchdowns. They can’t afford too many three and outs on offense. In addition, the Redskins’ defense needs to limit Minnesota’s opportunities for downfield advancement. That’s because the Vikings have Pro Bowl placekicker Blair Walsh, who converts field goals at a 90 percent rate for his career. What’s even more impressive about Walsh is that he’s converted 12-of-13 field goals from 50 yards or longer. That’s a demoralizing statistic for any defense.
The Redskins might have their hands full with a Vikings’ team that belies their 1-7 record. If they take them too lightly, Washington will head back to D.C with another loss on their record. That’s why they need to take the Vikings seriously if they want to salvage their season.