Previewing Week 9 matchup w/Commanders Wire

The Minnesota Vikings and Washington Commanders will meet in Washington for the first time since the 2016 season.

In that game, the Vikings lost to a Kirk Cousins-led Commanders by a score of 26-20. It will also be the first time that Cousins plays in Washington since he left the team after the 2017 season.

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To get prepared for Sunday’s game against the Commanders, we spoke with the Manging Editor of Commanders Wire Bryan Manning to get a sense of where the Commanders are at.

List

Vikings 53-man roster update heading into Week 9 vs. Commanders

Are the Commanders better without Carson Wentz?

Oct 13, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) looks to pass against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

I would say yes, but Wentz only had six games in this offense. Heinicke operates the offense much more efficiently. Wentz’s arm is so much better than Heinicke’s, which opens up the deep passing game. Heinicke has more of a gunslinger attitude. He is confident in his arm. The biggest difference between the two is mobility. The Wentz we saw in his early NFL years that could move around and make plays with his legs is long gone. Heinicke can not only run, but his pocket presence is so much better. And every player on this team, 100% believes in Heinicke. That’s not to disrespect Wentz, they just feel that strongly in Heinicke.

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What are the opinions of Commanders fans about Kirk Cousins?

Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) scrambles against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Completely split, even after all these years. If some dare say Cousins is a solid quarterback, the other side shreds you, saying he’s nothing but a “stat-padder.” I am sure all of this is familiar to Minnesota fans. Kirk has multiple Washington passing records but many fans always felt he was phony. What he would say did not always line up with his actions. Teammates liked Cousins, but it wasn’t like how the current roster feels about Heinicke. The franchise recently added 10 players to the “90 greatest” list in franchise history and it was determined by a fan vote. Cousins was one of 15 players on the ballot. Despite holding multiple franchise passing records, he had no support.

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What is the best way to stop Terry McLaurin?

Oct 30, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Washington Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) celebrates his catch in the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Heinicke is going to force it to McLaurin. McLaurin is arguably the best receiver in the league at contested catches. For the Vikings, it’s important to jam him and have a safety over the top on his side. McLaurin will get even more attention with rookie Jahan Dotson out again.

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Is the defensive line for the Commanders as dominant as ever?

Oct 9, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is hit while throwing the ball by Washington Commanders defensive tackle Jonathan Allen (93) during the first quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Yes. Jonathan Allen has been dominant for a few years now. He keeps getting better. Daron Payne is having his best career season. He sometimes gets overshadowed but he is about to make a lot of money in the offseason. Montez Sweat is also having his best season off the edge. Sweat is unblockable at times. He and Darrisaw should have a fun matchup. Washington has several role players in Efe Obada, John Ridgeway, Casey Toohill and James Smith-Williams, and all are playing well in their roles. Chase Young was activated this week but will not play. 

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What is the easiest way to attack the Commanders defense?

Oct 2, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney (58) in action during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Commanders AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Washington will be vulnerable in the passing game. The Commanders don’t have outstanding corners. The unit has played better recently. Second-year CB Benjamin St-Juste is good, but not a shutdown player. Kendall Fuller is a good player, but gets beaten deep too frequently. A problem for Washington could be when Justin Jefferson lines up in the slot. That’s where he’ll see Rachad Wildgoose. Wildgoose has played well this season but playing against Jefferson will be a major problem. I’d expect Kevin O’Connell to attack this matchup.

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Prediction for Sunday's game?

Dec 31, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) warms up prior to the game against the the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Both teams are on winning stress. However, neither team is blowing anyone out. Everything is a one-score game. I would expect a similar outcome Sunday. Ultimately, I think Jefferson is the difference-maker in this one.

Prediction: Vikings 24, Commanders 20

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Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire