TNF: Redskins vs. Vikings Analysis & Picks

by | Oct 22, 2019 | nfl

Washington Redskins (1-6 SU, 2-5 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (5-2 SU, 5-2 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date/Time: Thursday, October 24, 2019 at 8:20PM EDT
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV: Fox/NFL Network

Point Spread: WAS +16/MIN -16 (BetNow)
Over/Under Total: 41.5

The Washington Redskins come into Minneapolis on Sunday for a week eight showdown with the Minnesota Vikings. After a somewhat concerning 2-2 start, the Vikings have won three in a row, including Sunday’s 42-30 win on the road against Detroit. With 80 points in their last two games, the Vikes now look to keep it going against a 1-6 Redskins team that once again showed they’re in contention for being the worst team in the league with an ugly 9-0 loss to the 49ers last week. Can the Redskins keep this one respectable?

As Bad as it Looks?

When your head coach has been canned, and your only win is against the Dolphins and owing to a failed two-point conversion, the picture is pretty bleak. The Redskins obviously have a lot of issues, most of which figure to be exploited by a hot Vikings team this week. Case Keenum had a horrible game last week, throwing for 77 yards. Adrian Peterson is the only one on the offense with any name-power, and his star has faded. The receiving crew might have some promising pieces, but as of now, no one is making much of an impact.

In their last four games, the Redskins have scored a combined 26 points. If that 4-game window and getting shut out at home last week doesn’t paint the picture, what will? They’re getting substandard quarterback play behind a deficient offensive line. They can’t establish any rhythm, and it can be agonizing betting on a team with the points coming so infrequently. This week in Minneapolis might be another week of the same, as the Vikings are pretty solid against the run, with enough juice in the secondary to keep a deflated Redskins’ pass-attack under control.

The Flip Side of the Redskins’ Coin

Those who bet on the Redskins last week, however, cashed their tickets. That’s a testament to a defense when a team can be shut out and still cover the spread. This “D” has been put in the worst conditions. With the lethargy and miscues on the other side of the ball, they’ve been put in bad spots week after week this season. And still, they’ve allowed a combined 25 points in the last two games. With Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, the front is the best in the division as far as creating disruption, if not so much in stifling the run. The middle is pretty solid with Ryan Kerrigan and rising talent like Montez Sweat. The secondary is pretty suitable with Quinton Dunbar, Landon Collins, and others returning like Josh Norman and Deshazor Everett. They make a lot of plays, and we saw them give SF quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo a challenging day on Sunday.

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500 Pound Elephants for the Redskins

So far in 2019, the Redskins’ defense hasn’t been able to curtail the run very well. While they’ve avoided the big play in stretches, you’d expect more from a talented front seven that still needs time to come around. With 142 yards on the ground on Sunday, Minnesota Vikings running back added another piece to building a budding career where he has really exploded this season with 725 yards rushing with eight TDs and 22 receptions. At home, the league’s leading rusher really looks to explode this week in this matchup.

After some early-season criticism, Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota aerial attack have stepped in up the last few weeks. Cousins has been prolific over the past three games, and formerly-disgruntled receiver Stefon Diggs is coming off two straight monster games. It’s good that he emerged, as Adam Thielen’s status as of press time is uncertain with a pulled hamstring, though he says he expects to play. They’re getting some good tight end production, and on Sunday, Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith, Jr. each caught touchdowns. Against the Niners, Miami, Chicago, and the like, Washington’s defense did OK against the pass. On the road against a peaking Minnesota aerial attack (Thielen’s status notwithstanding), the Vikings’ passing game could thrive, and between that and Dalvin Cook, it’s going to make it hard for the Redskins’ “D” to thrive. That’s bad news, being that a scrappy defensive performance in this spot would appear to be key to a Washington cover.

Identifying X-Factors

While the Vikings do in fact look improved and are sitting in a good position at 5-2 with three straight wins, they’re not an utterly-dependable football machine that can be relied upon to deliver every week. Wins over the Giants, a slipping Eagles squad, and the Lions do not signal a revival. Is this the best spot for them? After thriving as small favorites, can they succeed in the role of a big home favorite? Do the last three weeks make them easy to stomach in that realm? Or can a Redskins’ team without any pressure be loose and go out there and make some things happen? When something about a team looks really ugly for a few weeks in a row, as the Washington offense, it’s bizarre how often a team like that will do an about-face when you least expect it.

Take the Points

This is counterintuitive on a few levels. One is that the Redskins stink, and it’s hard to find a source of positivity. But after a few weeks of some high-wire offense and big points on the scoreboard, I sense a more-subdued Vikings’ bunch this week, with the Redskins showing just enough teeth on defense to keep this one from getting out-of-reach. A few big plays on both sides of the ball make it hard for the Vikes to cover the significant number this week. I’ll take the ‘Skins.

Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Washington Redskins plus 16 points.

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