Tonight’s Thursday Night Football match-up may not have a lot of people excited seeing that it’s the Washington Redskins versus the Minnesota Vikings but it’s still an important game, mainly for the Redskins.
Going into this game the Redskins are coming off a tough victory against the Chargers and a win tonight would be huge. Winning tonight will put them in position to be tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for second place in the NFC East heading into Sunday. Keep in mind if the Eagles were to lose this Sunday to the Packers, Redskins could take a second place lead in the NFC East.
When it comes to the Vikings, their play-off hopes are just about over, short of miracle but that doesn’t mean they should be underestimated, mainly because they are fighting team and always looking to ruin somebody’s season. Coming into this game, both teams have a fair chance of winning but only one tam will come out victorious but only if they follow certain steps.
Redskins Steps to Victory
Offensively, the Redskins must play well and it all starts with quarterback Robert Griffin III. Slowly but surely Griffin is returning to himself and he will need to play well in this game. It all starts with Griffin being more willing to run, which makes him harder to defend and the offense as a whole. Vikings secondary has been extremely inconsistent but that’s no reason to underestimate them. Griffin has had accuracy issues and he can’t afford to turn the ball over in this game. Overall for him to succeed in this game, he needs to make better decisions and get back to being RG3.
The running game must also get going through running back Alfred Morris. Morris hasn’t been used well this season but that needs to change going into this game. Running the ball helps to take pressure off Griffin and move the chains consistently down the field. However, for both Griffin and Morris to perform well the offensive line must do their part. So far this season, the offensive line has not allowed Griffin anytime to throw or opened any holes for Morris.
Most importantly, Kyle Shanahan’s play calling must improve. He has abandoned the run game to many times this season and that needs to stop. He needs to bring balance back to this Redskin’s offense starting in this game.
Defensively, Redskins must find a way to contain running back Adrian Peterson. Their main goal should be making quarterback Christian Ponder and his receiving core beat them. It all starts with the defensive line creating some form of pressure on Ponder because he is known to make mistakes when pressured. They can’t afford to give up any big plays but as I mentioned earlier, if they are able to make them one-dimensional, it will allow the defense to focus on keeping everything in front of them.
A side not in this game are the little mistakes for the Redskins, so far this season the Redskins have been horrible in special teams, whether it’s a blocked field goal or punt or a costly penalty. All are unacceptable and could ultimately cost them the game.
Vikings Keys to Victory
Offensively, the Vikings must do what I say every week, which is give the ball to running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson has had his up and down moments this season but he is still a force to be reckoned with. Running the ball forces the Redskin’s defense to focus on Peterson but it also opens up things for the passing game.
Which leads me to quarterback Christian Ponder who must perform well this game for the Vikings offense to have a chance. There is no need to for him to do anything special, he would be smart to focus on short passes to get the ball out of his hands quickly. Most importantly, Ponder must not turn the ball over, it’s because of those turnovers that they loss to the Cowboys. I also hope to see the Vikings run some more no-huddle offense like they did against the Cowboys, especially since the Redskin defense is so inconsistent.
Defensively, the Vikings need to contain quarterback Robert Griffin III. It all starts with pressuring Griffin and since the offensive line has been so horribly consistent they should look to expose them. However, they must be cautious because while Griffin may not be he who he was last season, he has still has shown moments where he is able to scramble. This front seven also needs to be able to tackle consistently in this game, when you talk about Griffin and Morris, they aren’t easy to tackle, so the Vikings must wrap and limit extra yardage and potential big plays by wrapping up and finishing tackles.
The Vikings secondary also needs to be prepared, specifically to force a turnover or two. When you talk about Griffin, he is known to force a couple of passes every game and the Vikings needs to be prepared to make plays on the ball.
Finally, this Viking team needs to be able to finish, when it comes to the Vikings that’s been one of their main problems. They had a good opportunity to beat Dallas Cowboys last week but they weren’t able to finish. They did the same thing earlier this season against the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns, so the key is to not only get off to a good start but finish strong.
In conclusion, both teams have a chance to win this game and it could honestly go either way but the Redskins really need this win.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com