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Need to Know: First look at Redskins-Vikings matchup

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Need to Know: First look at Redskins-Vikings matchup

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, November 5, two days before the Washington Redskins visit the Minnesota Vikings.

Nickel coverage

Five things you need to know about the Redskins-Vikings matchup:

1. Quick, who has rushed for more yards this season, Adrian Peterson or Alfred Morris? OK, trick question, it’s Peterson but not by much. The Redskins’ back that everyone thinks is having an off year due to being underutilized has gained 686 yards on 133 carries, a 5.2-yard average per carry. Peterson has 20 more carries and has 711 yards, just 25 more than Morris. That comes to a 4.6-yard average for Peterson. LeSean McCoy of the Eagles leads the NFL with 777 yards but he and the other two runners with more yards than Peterson and Morris, Marshawn Lynch and Jamaal Charles, have not yet had their bye weeks. Peterson and Morris have.

2. The Vikings’ QB carousel has swung back to where it started the year. Christian Ponder is likely to start against the Redskins, having survived two attempts to unseat him as the starter. Matt Cassel got a couple of starts and the Vikings’ only win. After Cassel suffered an injury they gave the ball to Josh Freeman, who had been picked up just a couple of weeks before he started against the Giants. He was awful and now it’s back to Ponder. He got a less than ringing endorsement from head coach Leslie Frazier after the loss to the Cowboys. “As we speak, I don’t see why we would make a change,” Frazier said, via the Pioneer Press and Pro Football Talk. “Sometimes after ballgames you make emotional decisions, but I don’t see anything that tells me he shouldn’t start against the Redskins.”

3. The Vikings’ defense has been consistently bad. They rank 29th in yards allowed in 30th in points given up. They haven’t give up fewer than 23 points in any game and have yielded over 30 points five times. Defensive end Jared Allen is occupying just over $17 million in cap space and he has returned 4.5 sacks.

4. Neither team practiced on Monday but due to the game being just three days away they still had to file an injury report based on what the status of players would have been if they had practiced. Eight Vikings would have been held out of practice including starters DT Letroy Guion (chest/knee), OT Phil Loadholt (concussion), S Jamarca Sanford (groin), and TE Kyle Rudolph (foot). It is certain that Rudolph will not play; he suffered a fractured foot against the Cowboys and is expected to miss a month. In addition starters CB Chris Cook (hip) and CB Josh Robinson (chest) were hypothetically limited.

5. Rudolph is the Vikings’ second-leading receiver with 30, one behind Greg Jennings. Rookie Cordarelle Patterson has made a splash returning kickoffs with two touchdowns but he has yet to make much of an impact as a receiver with 16 catches for 146 yards.

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Stat of the day

—According to Pro Football Focus, the Redskins had no dropped passes against the Chargers and missed just six tackles.

Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Vikings 2; Redskins @ Eagles 12; Monday night 49ers @ Redskins 20

—Today’s schedule: Practice 11:05; Player availability, Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan news conferences after practice (approx. 1:15).

In case you missed it

Shanahan talks about “hectic” short week

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Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

In the third quarter of the Redskins’ Week 3 game against the Giants, New York drove to a first and goal at the Washington 10. A Trent Murphy sack and two incompletions later, Josh Brown came in and kicked a field goal.

Since then, opponents have had goal to go situations 12 times. They have scored touchdowns on every one of them.

The stop against the Giants was one of just two all year. They had one against the Cowboys in Week 2. Their opponents’ goal to go success rate is 90.5 percent. That’s the second worst in the NFL.

The failures have been costly. On Sunday, the Cardinals recovered a Kirk Cousins fumble and returned it to the Washington 10. The Redskins led 13-10 at the time and coming out of that situation with the game tied would have been large. But on third and goal at the six Carson Palmer hit Michael Floyd with a touchdown pass and the Cardinals had both the lead and the momentum.

Opponents usually haven’t had to work that hard. Teams have run 21 plays in goal to go and they have 10 touchdowns.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys got to goal to go three times. A stop on any one of them would have been a boost to the Redskins and would have changed the dynamic of the game. But Dallas was three for three.

The goal to go problems are a subset of the Redskins’ problems with red zone defense in general. Opponents have scored touchdowns on 27 of 40 red zone trips, a 67.5 percent success rate that puts the Redskins 30th in the NFL.  

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NFC East Update - Where everybody is losing except the Cowboys

NFC East Update - Where everybody is losing except the Cowboys

The NFC East was a beast for a while, but in recent weeks, the division is fading. All the teams outside of Dallas lost this weekend, and losing streaks are popping up throughout the I-95 Corridor. Here's the NFC East update:

  1. The Minnesota Vikings gave the Dallas Cowboys all they could handle last Thursday night, and yet, the Cowboys won 17-15. Dak Prescott was not impressive in Minneapolis, but Ezekiel Elliott was and the Cowboys defense did just enough to slow the Vikings terrible offense. At 11-1, Dallas has clinched a playoff berth, and with a date in New York this Sunday night, Jerry Jones' crew has a chance to avenge their only loss of the year, which came in Week 1 to the Giants.
  2. It seemed expectations met reality for the New York Giants last Sunday in Pittsburgh. Ben McAdoo's team had won six games in a row, but largely, faced poor competition. In their first tough test since the leaves started falling, Eli Manning's offense could not get going and the Giants fell to 8-4, still in possession of the first NFC Wild Card spot. Even on their win streak, the Giants didn't pass many eye tests. Beat Dallas on Sunday night and all that changes.
  3. Two weeks ago the Washington Redskins were one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Winners of two straight and with a surging Kirk Cousins, the Redskins marched to Dallas on Thanksgiving and gave the Cowboys a real test. Despite the loss, Washington still held its spot with the second NFC Wild Card. After a deflating loss in Arizona, now the 'Skins are on the outside looking in of the playoffs. Good news for Jay Gruden and company: The team can get right back in the thick of things this week in Philly, and the remaining four-game schedule looks advantageous. 
  4. While the Redskins have lost two in a row and are in danger of falling out of the playoff race, the Philadelphia Eagles have lost three in a row and look to be falling apart. Rookie QB Carson Wentz is devoid of offensive weapons to work with and the Eagles have been outscored 85-42 in their last three games. Philly can get their first NFC East win this week with the 'Skins visiting, but it will take a different effort than they've shown in the last month.

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