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Redskins-Vikings: Five keys and a prediction

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Redskins-Vikings: Five keys and a prediction

Here are five keys to the Washington Redskins-Minnesota Vikings game plus a prediction.

1. The Redskins are on the road playing against a 1-7 team in a building that can get very loud if the home team is doing well but can get very quiet if the Vikings are down. It would seem to be important for the Redskins to get on top early in this one and get the crowd out of the game. Kyle Shanahan agrees. “I haven’t played there in a few years, but the last time I was there I barely could hear myself think,” he said. “It can get real loud and those people can get going. And the crowd will be a factor. It’s always going to be a factor on third downs and crucial situations, and the better you can get off to a start, the quieter they get. It’s something we’d obviously like to do.”

2. On the defensive side, one thing the Redskins would obviously like to do is to get after Christian Ponder. He’s been sacked 15 times in his five starts and that was with a healthy offensive line. Injuries will force to Vikings to sit right tackle Phil Loadholt (concussion) and probably left guard Charlie Johnson (elbow). That will break up an O-line combo that has started every game since the start of the 2012 season. If they can take advantage of the backups, look for a multi sack game from Ryan Kerrigan and possibly Barry Cofield.

3. The Redskins could jump out to a fast start and get pressure on Ponder and then have Cordarrelle Patterson undo all of the good they’ve done. He’s averaged 36.7 yards on 22 kickoff returns; that’s a big chunk of field position. And you can’t stop him by kicking deep in the end zone. One of his TD’s was a 109-yard runback so it’s obvious that he’ll run it out from anywhere. Kai Forbath either needs to boom it into the first row of the stands or pooch it with hang time down to the 10. If I’m the Redskins I’ll take my chances with Ponder and even Adrian Peterson with decent field position over a quick six from Patterson.

4. Yes, we all know that the Redskins are 10-1 when Alfred Morris gets 20 or more carries in the game. But it’s not all that simple. If it was, then Kyle Shanahan would simply call for Robert Griffin III to hand off to Morris on the first 20 snaps of the game and call it a day. For Morris to get to 20 carries, the passing game has to be working so the defense doesn’t stack to box to stop him. It also helps if Griffin can get his wheels moving to give the defense something else to guard against. In any case, the numbers don’t lie. In 2012 Morris had 20 or more carries three times in the Redskins’ first nine games. The team’s record was 3-6 (2-1 in Morris’ 20+ carry games). In the final seven games he carried at least 20 times in every game. The Redskins, of course, went 7-0.

5. No matter what the pass rush, special teams, and Morris do, it’s going to be hard for the Redskins to win unless Griffin can, for the first time this year, put up a second solid game in a row. Since the bye he has twice completed 50 percent or less of his passes and has posted the two worst single-game passer ratings of his career. Not surprisingly, the Redskins lost those two games. He has twice has a completion percentage of 62 or better and passer ratings of over 85. The Redskins are 2-0 in those games. They are not good enough to overcome a bad game by their quarterback.

It says here that the Redskins rack up five sacks of Ponder, Morris gets his 20 carries and Griffin plays well enough for the Redskins to pull out the win:

Redskins 24, Vikings 14

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NFL Draft 2017: First round talent, but injuries explain Fabian Moreau's third round selection by Redskins

NFL Draft 2017: First round talent, but injuries explain Fabian Moreau's third round selection by Redskins

On the field, Fabian Moreau makes plays from his cornerback slot that translate to the NFL game. Staying on the field has been a different matter though. 

In five seasons at UCLA, Moreau dealt with his fair share of adversity. He took a medical redshirt year in 2015, suffering a Lisfranc injury three games into the year. More devestating to his draft status, however, was an injury suffered during his Pro Day in late March. Moreau tore his pectoral muscle while lifting weights.

For many, that injury caused his slip from a possible fringe first rounder to Washington's prize with the 81st pick. It's possible Moreau will be back from injury by the time training camp opens, but it seems likely he begins the summer sessions in Richmond on the PUP list. 

At the combine, Moreau ran a 4.35 40-yard dash. Serious speed, and it instantly makes the 6-foot, 206 lbs., Moreau the fastest corner on the Redskins.

In his senior season, Moreau grabbed two interceptions, forced a fumble and made 31 tackles. Not scared to get physical and play press coverage, Moreau's mindset should mesh well with Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland as he looks to force his way to playing time. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins take UCLA cornerback Moreau in the third round

Redskins take UCLA cornerback Moreau in the third round

After taking Alabama DL Jonathan Allen in the first round and Crimson Tide linebacker Ryan Anderson in the second, the Redskins drafted UCLA corner back Fabian Moreau in the third.

Moreau may have been drafted earlier but he suffered a torn pectoral lifting weights during his pro day. Although medical evaluations have said he should be ready to participate in training camp, he lasted until the 81st pick.

Moreau has good size at 6-0, 206 and he is a plus athlete. At the combine he ran a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash. In 2016 he led the Bruins with six pass breakups and also two interceptions. He is also considered to be a good run defender.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.