Things seem to be falling the Vikings‘ way today. Philadelphia beat the Saints and, playing for home-field advantage (and this time of year, playing at Lambeau is a decided advantage), the Packers had their ass handed to them by the Bears.
With a win tonight, the Vikings will clinch a playoff berth.
But the Redskins scare me.
They are ninth against the run, so it’s going to be a tough game tonight. They will probably not have to put eight or nine men in the box to stop the run, which means it will be more difficult for Tarvaris Jackson to make them pay.
The Vikings offensive line will need to play much better tonight than they did last week, especially Matt Birk. Birk was man-handled by the Bears back-up defensive tackle last week. Despite Washington’s tough run D, the Vikings are going to have to pound the ball often to make the play-action work. And, by the way, there’s always an excellent chance of Adrian Peterson ripping off a long TD run or two. He nearly had two last week.
How bout a dual backfield with both Peterson and Chester Taylor and let the Redskins pick their poison about who they want to stop? I’ve been waiting for this all season and I think today is the day to implement it.
The Redskins are 18th against the pass, so there’s a good chance we’ll see Jackson toss the ball with some frequency but he’ll have to avoid the mistakes he made against the Bears last week. He’ll also be without wide receiver Sidney Rice.
This is a game where it will be a huge advantage to get out on top early and then pummel the Skins to demoralize them early. I wouldn’t be surprised to see BevelChildress call a trick play on the fist series.
What scares me the most about Washington, though, is Todd Collins.
First, since he hasn’t started in 10 years, there’s precious little tape of the guy, so the Vikings defense has had one and a half games worth of material with which to prepare for him. Second, Collins has been in the same system for years, so presumably he knows his offense inside and out. Lastly, the Vikings have historically played poorly against backup QBs.
Washington has the 11th ranked rushing offense and despite boasting a dangerous duo of Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts, but I’m only concerned with them to the degree that they are able to set up a credible play-action.
The Redskins have the 4th worst special teams unit, so Aundrae Allison could have a big game returning kicks. And that could prove to be the difference in this game.
I expect most of this game will be a fight for field position, tough and close. The single most promising thing that emerged from last week’s game was that the Vikings played badly but still found a way to overcome their poor play and turnovers to win the game. That’s something we haven’t seen in a while.
I don’t know that I buy into the Vikings being the hottest team going into the playoffs, as so many national pundits have proclaimed them to be, but a win tonight will go a long way toward convincing me.