Free NFL Pick: Minnesota at Washington 11-28-2010

November 27, 2010

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Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins

Sunday November 28th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Washington -2

Overview:

The 3-7 Minnesota Vikings could easily be the biggest disappointment in the NFL. They have lost four of their last five, with their only victory coming in comeback fashion against the struggling Arizona Cardinals in overtime. They have an 0-5 road record this season and a new head coach at the helm. It is unclear where the Vikings will go after this season, with an aging roster and no viable option at quarterback in sight.

The Washington Redskins have already improved from last season, regardless of how the rest of the season goes. At 5-5, bringing in Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan has paid dividends already. That being said, it is difficult for me to remember an NFL team being humiliated the way the Redskins were when they took on the Eagles. This team has a long way to go, but their overtime victory against the Titans helps their cause.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Redskins cannot tackle. When you take a look at their defense, it is hard to really put a finger on the problem. London Fletcher, Robby McIntosh, Albert Haynesworth, Brian Orakpo, etc. These are all names of players that are known for sure tackling. The past two games in particular, nothing could be further from the truth. The entire Eagles offense ran through arm tackles the entire night. Last week, Chris Johnson broke loose because everyone struggled to break down and wrap up. The Redskins face Adrian Peterson this week, who is not exactly the ideal running back to face when your team is undergoing tackling issues.
  • Adrian Peterson is the most dangerous running back in the NFL. Chris Johnson is great, Arian Foster is having a phenomenal year, but A.P. is the most consistently dominant back in the league. His rare combination of speed and size have always given defenses fits, but his fumbling problem has always put a damper on his career. This off season, it appears as though he has taken care of his fumbling woes, as he has no fumbles on his 211 carries. The Vikings are struggling and Peterson’s carries need to see an influx to compensate for poor quarterback play.
  • Clinton Portis is on the IR. Ryan Torain is out with a hamstring injury. As a result, Keiland Williams will be getting the start. Williams has 195 career yards. Though he has performed sufficiently during his limited play this season, it is unclear whether or not he has even remotely what it takes to be a feature back in the NFL. Through a set of unlikely circumstances, Williams went from being signed off the practice squad to being the starter. Despite their struggles, the Vikings still allow less than 100 yards on the ground a game. It will be interesting to see how he does.
  • Donovan McNabb needs to take it upon himself to win this football game. The Redskins are not completely out of the playoff race and this is why the Redskins brought him in. He is playing for his contract and the playoffs. With running back questions, the Redskins are going to have to rely heavily on the pass. McNabb needs to step his game up late in the season. Only throwing more touchdowns than picks once this season isn’t going to cut it if the Redskins want to be in the playoffs.

Key Matchup:

Trent Williams Vs. Jared Allen

  • Trent Williams has a habit of making into the key matchup. The Redskins bypassed more highly touted tackles to snag Williams with their first round pick. Williams has already faced Julius Peppers, and Dwight Freeney this season, giving up no sacks to either of them.
  • Allen has 5.5 sacks in his last three games. He should be able to take advantage of going up against a rookie left tackle, but I thought the same would prove true for Freeney and Peppers. Williams has held his own, but Allen can pin his ears back, knowing the Redskins will rely heavily upon McNabb while their running back situation is in shambles.

Wrap Up:

The Vikings haven’t won on the road this season. They have no continuity and look flustered. A head coaching change might be what the team needed, but it came too late to salvage this season. Brett Favre will end his career on a low note and Vikings have absolutely nothing to play for. For that reason, I give the nod to the Redskins, because they still show signs of wanting to win. The Redskins also need to redeem themselves in front of their home crowd after the Monday Night performance in their last home outing.

Free NFL Pick: Washington -2


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