The Minnesota Vikings have won four in a row to claim a two-game cushion atop the NFC North, but that hardly means Case Keenum’s job is secure behind center. With now-healthy quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looming on the horizon, the 29-year-old Keenum looks to strengthen his grip on the starting reins as the Vikings return from their bye to visit the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
“We’ll just see how it goes,” coach Mike Zimmer said, providing little clarity on the issue. “We’ll see where we are at, where we’re going. Case has done great. We’ll just keep going from there and see how this thing all plays out.” Keenum has been successful, albeit unspectacular during the win streak, averaging 213.75 yards while throwing for four touchdowns total against three interceptions. Washington’s Kirk Cousins completed over 66 percent of his passes for the fourth straight week in a 17-14 win over Seattle, and hopes a return to FedEx Field can provide a boost as he has thrown for 958 yards and six touchdowns in his last three home games. Rob Kelley found the end zone twice versus the Seahawks, but his 37 yards rushing on 22 carries over the last two weeks hardly instills confidence in the running game.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Vikings -1.5. O/U: 42
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (6-2): Keenum would be wise to locate Stefon Diggs, who tied a career high with 13 catches for 164 yards receiving in last season’s 26-20 loss to Washington on Nov. 13. Fellow wideout Adam Thielen (team-leading 48 receptions) ranks sixth in the league with 627 yards while tight end Kyle Rudolph has found the end zone in three straight meetings with the Redskins. Running back Jerick McKinnon has provided a boon in the passing game with 20 receptions in the last four games and four overall touchdowns in that span.
ABOUT THE REDSKINS (4-4): Washington’s pass catchers are riddled with injuries, with tight end Jordan Reed and wideout Jamison Crowder nursing ailing hamstrings. While their availability for Sunday is in jeopardy, coach Jay Gruden expects Vernon Davis to be “fine” despite the veteran tight end sporting a misshapen right hand that has ballooned due to swelling. The 33-year-old Davis showed he had plenty of gas in the tank last week with team highs in receptions (six) and receiving yards (72), and he enters Sunday’s tilt with four touchdowns in his last four encounters with the Vikings.
1. Washington LB Zach Brown has recorded 26 of his NFL-best 86 tackles in the last three games, but his availability is in question after missing practice on Thursday with an ankle injury.
2. Minnesota DE Everson Griffen, who has sat out back-to-back practices with a foot injury, can set an NFL record by collecting a sack in his ninth straight game on Sunday.
3. Redskins RB Chris Thompson leads the team in rushing yards (251), receptions (35) and receiving yards (453).
PREDICTION: Vikings 20, Redskins 17