Perhaps the most stunning part of the Redskins' playoff scenario is that we already know so much. They will play their first playoff game at FedEx Field and they will be the No. 4 seed. Whom Washington's faces in the NFL Wild-Card weekend round, that remains a mystery.
Breaking Burgundy senior Chris Russell began his potential opponent preview with the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks. That leaves the Minnesota Vikings...
Redskins Jay Gruden and his Vikings counterpart, Mike Zimmer, are both second-year coaches. Both led their respective teams to playoff berths for the first time since 2012. They know each other from their coordinator days with the Bengals. They could meet for big stakes next week.
The Vikings (10-5) are coming off an impressive throttling of the New York Giants in the frigid cold of Minneapolis on Sunday night. They are led by Zimmer, second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and of course former MVP Adrian Peterson. The running back with a league-leading 1,418 rushing yards averages 4.6 yards per carry and has scored 10 touchdowns.
Rookie and former University of Maryland star Stefon Diggs, a mid-round steal is Minnesota's top receiver and deep threat. Tight Kyle Rudolph is a factor. Wide receiver Mike Wallace rarely is.
You might remember the Vikings' offensive coordinator. His name, Norv Turner, Yes, the former Redskins head coach. Turner always calls a good game, but there is one area Minnesota's offense shows weakness. Left tackle Matt Kalil, a high first round pick in 2012 is very inconsistent. Same for rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings. Meanwhile Washington's pass rush suddenly looks more potent with rookie Preston Smith providing help for Ryan Kerrigan and Jason Hatcher.
Defensively, Minnesota's stout group features rising studs in safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Anthony Barr at linebacker along with a deep defensive line. The Vikings allow 232 passing yards per game, ninth in the NFL, and are tied for ninth with 38 sacks.
The last time the two teams played? Last November in Minneapolis. The Redskins were coming off an extremely short week because they beat the Cowboys in overtime on the road the previous Monday night and then made a quarterback switch back to Robert Griffin III.
Washington moved the football for much of the day, but Griffin threw a disastrous pick at midfield near the end of the first half and was sacked five times, leading to a loss. The Redskins defense, gassed following the quick turnaround and heavy usage the prior week, ran out of energy in the second half.
Zimmer got the better of Gruden last year. Should that matchup occur next week, some may suggest Gruden won’t be able to hold his own. That’s simply not true, no matter who you hear it from.
Now that we've taken a closer look at the Packers, Seahawks and Vikings, the question remains. Which team should fans of the Burgundy and Gold desire in the Wild Card round?
I'm not usually a guy who likes to go with the grain. Usually, I find a way to go against it and often I'm right. I can't imagine anybody is going to say, "Yeah, I'd rather take on the Seahawks" or "Bring on Mr. Double Check Discount!"
Let's make this simple: if you're a Redskins fan, you should be rooting for the scenario that brings the Vikings to the nation’s capital next weekend.
That’s not being disrespectful to Minnesota. That’s being fearful of Russell Wilson and “Legion of Boom” defense that the Seahawks still bring and one of the greatest quarterbacks of the last 25 years in Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers.
Can the Redskins beat Minnesota? Maybe. It will be very difficult and this might be the best of three bad scenarios, but hopefully the Redskins can elevate their game as the level of competition goes up.
Ultimately, consider the opportunity. An opportunity to take on a quarterback in his first playoff game and with that first playoff game on the road. He's the QB for a team that doesn't have a "Nation" behind it. No knocking the talented Bridgewater and the impressive Vikings. Minnesota is a very good team, but its core does not have the same playoff enriched blood as the other do.
Seems pretty simple to me!
Chris Russell is a senior writer for Breaking Burgundy, longtime reporter on the Redskins beat and radio host for 1067 The Fan. Follow Chris on Twitter @russellmania621https://twitter.com/Russellmania621.
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