The Washington Redskins (1-6) are traveling to Minnesota to take on the Vikings (5-2) at U.S. Bank Stadium for "Thursday Night Football." At this point, these two teams seem to be heading in very different directions.
The Redskins are under new leadership with interim head coach Bill Callahan after Jay Gruden was fired following an 0-5 start. Since then, the team is 1-1 with its only win being a 17-16 victory against the Miami Dolphins in Week 6.
The Vikings, on the other hand, are on a three-game winning streak where the average victory has been by 16 points. A major reason for that success is the play of quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has completed 75.6 percent of his passes for 976 yards and 10 touchdowns during that span.
Washington at Minnesota
Kickoff: Thursday, Oct. 24 at 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: FOX/NFL Network
Spread: Minnesota -15.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Who will step up in Adam Thielen's absence?
Along with Stefon Diggs, Thielen is part of the NFL's most dynamic 1-2 punch at wide receiver. Unfortunately for Minnesota, the 29-year-old suffered a hamstring injury last week and has already been ruled out for Thursday night's game. This will be the first game he has missed in his six-year career.
From 2017-18, Thielen combined for 204 receptions, 2,649 yards, and 13 touchdowns. In 2019, his receptions and yardage production have dipped (27 receptions, 391 yards). But he's already hauled in a whopping six touchdowns through seven weeks, one of which he was injured for most of the game.
With Thielen out, the Vikings will need a pair of rookies, tight end Irv Smith Jr. and receiver Oalbisi Johnson, to step up in his stead. The two combined for nine receptions, 100 yards and a touchdown against the Lions in Week 7.
2. Cousins, Keenum, and Peterson facing former teams
If you have not heard yet, several starters in this game will be facing off against their former teams. Kirk Cousins, who was drafted by the Redskins in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, is now the Vikings’ franchise quarterback.
As if that was not enough, the entire Redskins starting backfield, which includes Case Keenum and Adrian Peterson, used to play for the Vikings. Peterson is an especially big factor, as the former Oklahoma product was a first-round pick in 2007 and rushed for 11,675 yards and 97 touchdowns for the franchise from 2007-16. Peterson, who is averaging 3.7 yards per carry but has seen more touches (43 carries, 199 yards) in the two games since Bill Callahan was named interim head coach, is dealing with some sprained ankles but he is expected to suit up against his former team on Thursday night.
3. Dalvin Cook is in MVP form
It is amazing that the Vikings were able to go from Peterson to Cook as their starting running back. Although his first two seasons were injury-riddled, Cook is emerging as a potential MVP candidate during Year 3.
The Florida State product has produced 945 total yards (725 rushing, 220 receiving) on 157 touches to go along with eight rushing touchdowns. He's leading the league in rushing and is averaging a healthy 5.5 yards per carry. With him leading the way, Minnesota is third in the NFL in rushing offense at 160 yards per game.
Washington was supposed to field one of the top run defenses. But the Redskins currently rank No. 28 and are allowing 134.4 rushing yards per game, which does not bode well for their chances on Thursday night.
The Redskins are currently one of the NFL’s worst franchises. The ownership is being widely criticized and the talent is mostly bare on offense — especially along the offensive line.
It will be interesting to see how this game is going to shake out. The over/under currently sits at 42 points, and that number still seems a little bit high. In fact, the Redskins have not hit the over in any of their last four games, as they’ve only scored 27 combined points during that time.
It would be wise to expect a lopsided victory for a Minnesota team that is currently one of the hottest in the NFL. As it sits, the Vikings are ranked sixth in the NFL in both total offense (391.0 ypg) and total defense (327.9). That's not a good combination for Washington to deal with.
Prediction: Vikings 27, Redskins 7
— Written by Clint Lamb, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ClintRLamb.