I think it is safe to say that many people did not have the Minnesota Vikings leading the NFC North at this point in the season. It probably won’t look like that way at the end of the season, but a 4-1 start is still impressive for a team that looked in complete disarray a season ago. With the Washington Redskins, I think many people had them pegged at 2-3 over the first five weeks, but the way RG3 has asserted himself in the offense has been a shock of sorts. Unfortunately for the Redskins they may be without their new found savior in this one. If you were paying attention last week, Griffin suffered a walloping collision against the Falcons leading way to backup quarterback Kirk Cousins entering the game and throwing the game away. Make sure you check up on RG3’s status before pulling the trigger on this game.
It appeared quarterback Christian Ponder was a complete throwaway pick after last season. However, this season he seems to be getting more comfortable as the year progresses. He is not lighting the world on fire, but he has limited his mistakes and let AP handle the load. I guess if you like the term “game manager”, Ponder would certainly fit that billing. He has passed for 1082 yards and 6 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions, both coming against the Titans last week. The most impressive note on Ponder is his completion rating, 69 percent, which is good enough for 2nd in the NFL.
Ponder has one of the best running backs in the game to lean on, Adrian Peterson. There were many question marks coming into this year regarding AP because of his knee. However, Peterson has made people forget about the injury and focus more on his abilities on the football field. Peterson has rushed for 420 yards on the year, an average of 84 yards a game. The Vikings average 133 yards a game on the ground for 9th in the league. They will have a chance to feast on an abysmal Redskins defense.
The Redskins’ offense is doing something they haven’t done in years, but the defense is a completely different story. In terms of total team defense they rank 26th, allowing 416.4 yards per game to go with 29.4 points surrendered a game. There just aren’t any playmakers on this roster. Until they address defense in the draft or free agency this is going to be a unit that will continue to be bad. The absence of all-star linebacker Brian Orakpo has severely derailed them as well.
For the purposes of this game, breaking down the Redskins’ offense is a little dicey. As I mentioned previously, RG3 is listed as questionable with a concussion. He did manage to go through a full practice on Thursday, but if he isn’t cleared to play by doctors then he will watch this one from the sidelines. With Griffin the offense has done some special things. RG3 has passed for 1161 yards and an even more impressive 242 on the ground. It’s no secret if Griffin isn’t able to go the offense is going to take a huge dip in productivity. The ‘Skins will presumably rely on rookie running back Alfred Morris who has 491 yards on the year; including 228 in the last two games alone. So, not only Griffin, but Morris has been a welcome addition as well to the Redskins. They will need to operate against a surprise defense in a sense. The Vikings only allow 15 points per game and have looked very impressive thus far this season. They rank 7th in the league with regards to yards allowed, 304.2.
Vikings vs. Redskins Spread and Betting Odds:
Minnesota Vikings +1.5 (-115)*
@Washington Redskins -1.5 (-105)*
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Vikings vs. Redskins Pick:
The odds are in asterisk above because as I write this the game is currently OFF at sportsbooks. The odds posted are from earlier in the week. Of course, they are waiting on the status of Robert Griffin which looks like will be a game time decision. He still has not been cleared to play as of late Saturday night, so as I mentioned earlier, please check up on his status before you lock in your wagers. If he is unable to go, fellow rookie quarterback out of Michigan State, Kirk Cousins, will be the starter. Cousins looked completely lost when he went in last week, tossing two interceptions. The two interceptions sealed their fate in a 24-17 loss.
Christian Ponder has looked fine so far this season, and should look okay against a lackluster Redskins’ defense. I expect the Vikings to feed the ball to Adrian Peterson early and often chewing up clock keeping it away from the Redskins. I think with the question marks surrounding the health of Griffin coming into this one, the Vikings steal one in Washington.
PICK = Vikings +1.5