Ten Spot Preview: Redskins at Vikings

John Keim takes a look at 10 burning questions going into the game and offers his predictions.

1. Can the Redskins stop Adrian Peterson?

Of course, it's not just him, it's Chester Taylor as well. But you get the point. It'll be difficult as the duo combines to average 5.6 yards per carry. So the Redskins might not be able to stop them. Of course, eight-man fronts are likely, forcing Tarvaris Jackson to beat them. And the Redskins' defensive linemen must – must – play physical and stay on the front side of the blocks. That means as the Vikes slant their line, they can't allow their shoulders to be anything but squared. If that happens, Peterson will have lots of room to run.

2. What else must they do against Peterson?

Obviously they have to tackle well, but Peterson breaks a lot of tackles. So the key is to limit being in one-on-one situations with him. And they have to be wary of the backside cuts. If the Vikes are smart, they'd run right at Andre Carter. Carter is not great against the run, but his speed makes him effective on the backside. My other concern is at linebacker. Rocky McIntosh had slowed down, but was very physical at taking on blockers. Randall Godfrey is physical, but slow. H.B. Blades is just way too small at outside linebacker – he's shorter than London Fletcher. And Fletcher has slowed down as well. They'll be going against Pro Bowl fullback Tony Richardson. Fortunately for Washington, both safeties are good tacklers. The corners also help with their run-stopping ability.

3. Can Tarvaris Jackson hurt them?

Only by being efficient. In the past five games, he's completing more than 65 percent of his passes, a stark contrast to the first five games he started. Jackson has managed the game better of late, but anyone who saw him play Chicago on Monday night has to be salivating. However, don't sleep on him because he has played better. Remember, this is an explosive offense. Yes it's largely because of the run, but Jackson's efficiency causes defenses to stay honest more than they'd like. He doesn't need to be spectacular, he just needs to move the ball.

4. Will the Vikes always run left?

No. Despite having left tackle Bryant McKinnie and left guard Steve Hutchinson and center Matt Birk – the latter two are Pro Bowlers – they will stay balanced on the ground. Part of it is, with a good cutback runner, it helps to have guys backside who can provide cutback lanes. But it can be hard to key on where they're going to run because they don't limit themselves.

5. How will Todd Collins fare?

Better than he did against the Giants, where a gusty wind coupled with his squirtgun arm made for a bad combination. But receivers were open and Santana Moss in particular looks ready to make more big plays. Minnesota's pass defense is ranked 32nd, a by-product of being so stout against the run. But it's a way to move the ball and Collins will be good at taking what's available. We think he'll be fine.

6. Can the Redskins run the ball?

They haven't proven they can run the ball consistently at all this season. So why would they do so against the NFL's top-ranked run defense? New York hurt Washington with up-the-gut penetration against the run and this week the Redskins are facing two Pro Bowl tackles. The linebackers also sell out to stop the run. The thing Washington has in its favor is Clinton Portis, who appeared fresher and more energetic against the Vikes. The belief is that the weekend off after the Bears game helped him considerably. Look for him to attack the Vikes off the edge. But their corners are excellent against the run, especially blitzing off the edge. If Antoine Winfield can't play, it would obviously help Washington.

7. Who will have a big game?

Tight end Chris Cooley. The Vikes linebackers will be heavily involved in the run, leaving strong safety Dwight Smith to cover him. If the Redskins are going to attack, the middle should be open for Cooley.

8. What's the mood of the locker room?

Very relaxed. This is a professional, but very loose bunch. Yes, their playoff fate depends on this game, but you wouldn't know it from the volume of the locker room or the smiles on the faces. This team has seen the worst life can offer this season; getting ready for a football game is nothing. If they lose, it won't be because they're too tight. And playing loose definitely helps in these kinds of games.

9. Will the Pro Bowl snubs serve as motivation?

Maybe, but how snubbed were any players on the Redskins? In all the lists of guys who were snubbed, I did not see anyone think another Redskin should have made the list. Mike Sellers has been good, but how would you pick him over Richardson in a year where one team is dominant on the ground and the other is rather mediocre? So I doubt this storyline will be a factor at all.

10. Will the Redskins win?

The Redskins are playing with a purpose and belief in themselves. Good for them. After what they've been through they've proven a point. But my problem always is this: injuries. They've just suffered too many of them. Yes, Jackson is not a very good quarterback, but does anyone really know how good Collins is? And I worry about this banged-up D against such a good run offense. The Redskins will play them close and if they win the turnover battle, that will tilt the game in their favor. But it goes like this: Minnesota 21, Redskins 20


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