Burning questions for Redskins vs. Vikings on ‘Thursday Night Football’

By Vincent Frank
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins will head to Minnesota to take on the Vikings on “Thursday Night Football” to open up Week 8 of the NFL schedule.

On paper, this is a mismatch waiting to happen. Washington has won one game this season and is coming off a shutout loss.

Meanwhile, the home-standing Vikings have won three consecutive after a ho-hum start to the season.

But that’s why they play football games on the actual field. It’s in this that we look at five burning questions for this mid-week matchup.

Will the Skins turn to Dwyane Haskins?

At 1-6 on the season, Washington isn’t even in rebuild mode yet. It does not have a long-term head coach following the firing of Jay Gruden. The team is also trotting out 31-year-old veteran quarterback Case Keenum on a weekly basis.

While the Skins’ brass had previously noted that rookie first-round pick Dwayne Haskins is not ready, that tune has changed a tad over the past week.

One has to wonder what interim head coach Bill Callahan will do should Keenum struggle early against an elite Vikings defense. Remember, he put up 50 net passing yards in last week’s shutout loss to the San Francisco 49ers. At some point, Washington has to see what it has in Haskins before the offseason.

Has the Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs connection finally clicked?

The drama surrounding these two earlier in the season was clear. Diggs was not happy about a lack of targets and Cousins’ struggles throwing down the field. It led to speculation that Diggs wanted to be traded.

All of this has changed over the past two games. Diggs has racked up 14 receptions for 309 yards and three touchdowns during that span alone. Cousins is looking his way down the field.

Set to take on a Skins pass defense that’s yielding a 97.6 quarterback rating on the season, some might think these two will click again Thursday night. That’s especially true with Adam Thielen sidelined to injury.

Can Washington’s defense pick up where it left off?

The Skins held an undefeated 49ers team that was averaging nearly 30 points per game to three field goals last week. There is, however, a caveat here. Said game was played in monsoon like conditions in the nation’s capital.

We’re sure Washington’s brass would like to send a message to former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins after he put up an historical three-game stretch. Whether that comes to fruition remains to be seen.

What we do know is that Washington’s defense remains the strength of this team. Can a talented defensive line put pressure in Cousins’ face? If not, will the ascending quarterback pick apart his former team?

Is Dalvin Cook a legit MVP candidate?

Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson have been bandied about the most as the likely NFL MVP. It makes sense. Quarterbacks have earned this award 11 times over the past 12 seasons.

But what about this young running back? What Cook has done through seven games is simply astonishing. He’s on pace for 2,160 total yards and north of 18 touchdowns.

Could Cook become the first running back to win this award since former Vikings star and current Redskins starter Adrian Peterson took home the honors back in 2012? Cook has a good matchup to cement his status as a contender against a Washington defense that’s yielding nearly 135 rushing yards per game.

Can Washington keep this close?

Of the Skins’ six losses this season, only their opening day defeat against the Philadelphia Eagles came by one score. Sure the team was close throughout last week’s game against the 49ers.

Then again, no one thought a Case Keenum-led offense could even put points up on the board against a dominant San Francisco defense.

We’re expecting pretty much the same thing here, as Keenum and Co. take on one of the most-talented defenses in the league. The onus is going to be on Washington’s defense to keep this game close.