New York Giants (7-7) at New York Jets (8-6)
Cleveland Browns (4-10) at Baltimore Ravens (10-4)
Denver Broncos (8-6) at Buffalo Bills (5-9)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10) at Carolina Panthers (5-9)
Arizona Cardinals (7-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)
Miami Dolphins (5-9) at New England Patriots (11-3)
St. Louis Rams (2-12) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4)
Minnesota Vikings (2-12) at Washington Redskins (5-9)
Oakland Raiders (7-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-8)
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10) at Tennessee Titans (7-7)
San Diego Chargers (7-7) at Detroit Lions (9-5)
Philadelphia Eagles (6-8) at Dallas Cowboys (8-6)
San Francisco 49ers (11-3) at Seattle Seahawks (7-7)
Chicago Bears (7-7) at Green Bay Packers (13-1)
Atlanta Falcons (9-5) at New Orleans Saints (11-3)
Minnesota Vikings (2-12) at Washington Redskins (5-9)
KICKOFF: Saturday, 1 p.m. ET
SURFACE: Field Turf
TV: FOX, Chris Myers, Tim Ryan, Jaime Maggio
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Vikings don't have enough around QB Christian Ponder to overwhelm a defense without a big game from RB Adrian Peterson. Peterson lacks his top-end speed and explosion as he recovers from his ankle sprain, while Ponder's accuracy has been an issue with a right hip injury. The Vikings haven't picked off a pass in the last nine games, and need DE Jared Allen to get after Rex Grossman and keep him out of rhythm. Grossman has 18 picks in the last 10 games but the offense is anchored by RB Roy Helu – he has 605 yards from scrimmage in the last four games.
FAST FACTS: Redskins P Sav Rocca has had 26 of 59 punts downed inside the 20. ... Ponder has been sacked 26 times in his last seven games.
SERIES HISTORY: 16th regular-season meeting. Redskins lead series, 8-7 and have won three of five playoff matchups. The most memorable regular-season game was a wild 44-38 Redskins triumph in 1986 as a 38-yard touchdown pass from Jay Schroeder to Gary Clark 1:46 into overtime trumped Tommy Kramer's 490 passing yards for the Vikings.
It's basically a foregone conclusion that Vikings defensive coordinator Fred Pagac will be let go after the season.
The year began with the Vikings becoming the first team in NFL history to blow three consecutive double-digit halftime leads to start a season. It's gotten only worse as the team now ranks last in points allowed (406), interceptions (six) and defensive passer rating (110.8). The latter statistic would tie the record for worst defensive passer rating set by the winless Lions of 2008.
Meanwhile, the Vikings' offense hasn't done anything particularly special either, yet coach Leslie Frazier expressed strong support for first-year offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and his run-oriented, ball-control scheme.
"I'm really excited about Bill, along with the rest of our offense," Frazier said. "I just see things that I know we're going to have a quality offense once we get some other pieces in place and have a full offseason."
Musgrave was hamstrung by the NFL's 4½-month lockout. He was new, the offense was new and the top two quarterbacks were new.
The team also spent most of training camp trying to get veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb ready to play. In hindsight, it was all wasted time and effort. McNabb was benched after starting 1-5 and was released on Dec. 1.
"I've seen enough to know that we can have a real good offense," Frazier said. "There are some things we need to address in the offseason to really put us over the top. But the way we run the football, the way we utilize some of our key personnel, if we can add the right pieces at the right places, we can have a top-notch offense."
Frazier also stated the importance of continuity in the development of rookie quarterback Christian Ponder.
"If you want to have Christian have any immediate success, you have to have some consistency with the offense," Frazier said. "The fact that he had no offseason and very little preparation in training camp because we were trying to get Donovan ready, we need some continuity.
"We need to have a strong offseason for us to take the next step. And part of that will be Bill and (quarterbacks coach) Craig Johnson and the rest of our offensive staff just working with our entire group throughout the allotted time that we'll have. There are enough things in place that if we're able to add the right pieces, along with maintaining continuity that we should be able to take a good jump this next fall."
During his eight seasons, Vikings DE Jared Allen has an NFL-best 100.5 sacks. Seventeen-and-a-half of those sacks have come this season (second in the league). So to say that Redskins rookie free agent tackle Willie Smith will have his hands full on Saturday is an understatement.
"I got my work cut out for me," said Smith, who allowed one sack apiece to New England's Andre Carter and the New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul during his first two games the past two weeks. "(He's) a great pass rusher, somebody that can really get after the tackles. I just got be right on my fundamentals, watch a lot of film and have great practices to get ready. I go off how I practice during the week.
"If I practice good, then I feel like I have a good chance to block whoever I play against. I just gotta keep practicing hard. I did all right (in my first two games). I still got a lotta work to do fundamentally, keeping my hands inside, keeping my shoulder pads down and keep finishing my blocks."
Vikings-Redskins game scout
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