In Week 10 last season, the Redskins hosted the Vikings in a close game that Washington managed to win, 26-20. A year later, the Redskins once again host the Vikings. However, this year the Vikings boast a 6-2 record, good for first in the NFC North.
Despite some turnover at quarterback, the Vikings’ offense has managed to be productive, in large part thanks to wide receiver Adam Thielen. His matchup, likely against Josh Norman, is just one of the keys to look for on Sunday.
Vikings WR Adam Thielen vs. Redskins CB Josh Norman
Thielen is sixth in the NFL in receiving yards with 627. The Vikings like to move him around, lining him up at the X and Z receiver spots and often in the slot as well. Norman plays the vast majority of his snaps at left cornerback and has locked down his side of the field. Opposing offenses rarely even attempt to target the receiver Norman covers. With the amount Thielen moves around, he won’t be exclusively matched up against Norman, but the two certainly will face off.
Thielen is a great route runner who creates separation that enables him to pick up yards after the catch. Norman is fantastic at anticipating and jumping routes, particularly short- and intermediate-level routes. When they do line up across from each other, it will be a must-see matchup.
Vikings DE Everson Griffen vs. Redskins LT T.J. Clemmings
The Redskins aren’t sure who their starting left tackle will be. Trent Williams hasn’t practiced in a few weeks; Ty Nsekhe returned to practice this week, but with limited participation. If neither is able to play, Clemmings will start against his former teammate in Minnesota, Everson Griffen. Griffen is third in the league with 10 sacks and will be hungry to add to that tally should the Redskins be forced to start their third best option at left tackle.
Vikings FS Harrison Smith vs. Redskins TE Vernon Davis
Smith is one of the elite safeties in the NFL. He’s a huge part of the Vikings’ defense because he’s capable of contributing to every facet. He can support the run, blitz off the edge or drop into coverage on any given play. Smith is the Vikings’ third-leading tackler with 43 combined tackles, but he also has 1.5 sacks, six passes defended and three interceptions. The Vikings will likely use him to cover the evergreen Davis, who last year had three catches for 66 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown, against the Vikings. With Jordan Reed’s health still questionable, look for Davis to take on a sizable workload and therefore see more attention from Smith.