Vikings vs. Commanders NFL Week 9 Top Picks: Will Minnesota Be Caught Looking Ahead?

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Taylor Heinicke #4 of the Washington Commanders scrambles in the second quarter of a game against the Indianapolis Colts. Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP.

The Minnesota Vikings are running away with the NFC North Division, and they are favored to keep winning on Sunday in Week 9 at the Washington Commanders.

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Minnesota Vikings vs. Washington Commanders 

Sunday, November 6, 2022 – 01:00 PM EDT at FedExField 

FOX has the telecast between these two NFC playoff hopefuls. I do think the Vikings (6-1) will get there, most likely as the NFC North champion as they lead the division by four games in the loss column over the disappointing Green Bay Packers (3-5) and tanking Chicago Bears (3-5). Washington has a .500 record (4-4) but sits last in the NFC East, and I tend to doubt the Commanders play extra football this year. 

It’s the first meeting between these teams since a Thursday night in Week 8 of the 2019 season in the Twin Cities, and the Vikes won 19-9. Dalvin Cook had 171 yards from scrimmage and the only TD, Kirk Cousins threw for 285 yards and Stefon Diggs (now in Buffalo) had 143 yards on seven catches. Case Keenum and the late Dwayne Haskins both played QB that night for Washington, which had just 216 yards. 

Washington is 2-1 at home against the Vikings in the last three meetings dating to 2012. They last hosted the Vikings at home in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The underdog is 8-3 ATS on the NFL picks in the past 11 meetings. 

Vikings Good In One-Score Games 

Minnesota came out of its bye on Sunday and beat visiting Arizona 34-26 for a fifth straight win, and the Vikings have scored at least 24 points in all of those.

Dalvin Cook rushed for a season-high 111 yards and a touchdown, and Kirk Cousins passed for two scores and ran for another, of course, Cousins used to play for Washington.

The Vikings were perfect in their red-zone trips with a season-high 5-for-5. 

Injuries and Changes

However, No. 1 tight end Irv Smith suffered a high ankle sprain in the win, so he’s going to miss time. Smith had four catches for 28 yards in Sunday’s win and has 22 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns overall this season.

Johnny Mundt and Jacob Hollister are the other tight ends on the active roster in Minnesota. Mundt's touchdown Sunday, in his 54th regular-season game, was his first trip to the end zone in a non-preseason game. 

“Every single snap, I really have felt like Irv is getting better and better and more comfortable coming off the injury from last year,” Coach Kevin O’Connell said of Smith. “It was unfortunate to see him go down late in the game. We’re hoping for some good news on Irv as he continues to get evaluated with our staff.” 

Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson is being called week-to-week with a calf injury. He currently ranks in the Top 15 defensive tackles by Pro Football Focus. Minnesota had been arguably the healthiest team in the NFL this season. 

Previous Season Stats

Last season, 14 of 17 Vikings' games ended with a one-score margin and of those 14, eight ended with a loss. During this five-game winning streak, every victory has been by one score.

Out of those five wins, only a victory over the Dolphins came against a team with a winning record and Miami was without its starting quarterback. 

Minnesota is 2-5 ATS in its past seven road games. One concern I have here: The Vikings are looking ahead to a Week 10 trip to Super Bowl-favored Buffalo.  

Heinicke to Rescue for Commanders 

Washington has followed a four-game losing streak with a three-game winning run following a 17-16 win at Indianapolis on Sunday. Backup QB Taylor Heinicke scored on a 1-yard run with 22 seconds left. The Colts led 16-7 with about five minutes to go.

Heinicke also threw for 279 yards and a score. He’ll continue to start with Carson Wentz out injured. Heinicke had more passing yards on the final two drives than he did in the first 50-plus minutes.  

"You see him as the game progresses and he's more and more comfortable," said head coach Ron Rivera. "He's getting the ball out. He's getting the ball where he needs to throw it to whichever side to the leverage sides." 

Terry McLaurin had a crucial catch on the winning drive and finished with six receptions for 113 yards. It was the 12th 100-plus yard receiving game of his career and his first since Week 3 at Philadelphia. It was the second time this season the Commanders won a game with a touchdown with under two minutes remaining. They also did so against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1. 

Washington's Options

Washington played without two of its top receivers in Dyami Brown and rookie Jahan Dotson. Still too early to know if they can return here. Could the Commanders have former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young in the lineup? Rivera has said Young (knee, PUP) will be designated to return on Wednesday.  

The Commanders will have 21 days to activate Young after they designate him to return. In the past six weeks, Washington's defense ranks fifth in yards per carry, eighth in sack percentage per dropbacks, fifth in yards and ninth in points and Young would obviously only help there.  

Washington is 15-6 ATS in its past 21 following a win. Following the NFL odds, the Commanders can stay within a field goal at worst for this one.  

NFL Pick: Over 43.5 Points (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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NFL Pick: Commanders +3.5 (-110) at BetOnline 

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