Minnesota Vikings at Washington Commanders – NFL Week 9 Game Preview

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The Minnesota Vikings look to continue to put the pedal to the metal during the 2022 season as they square off with their next opponent this Sunday, the Washington Commanders. Minnesota was involved in a back and forth battle with the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8, but ended up holding on for a 34-26 victory. The Commanders were locked into a close game with the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday, and won the game at the very end by a final score of 17-16.

We’ll be watching three main storylines in this game.

T.J. Hockenson’s Fit With Minnesota

The Vikings were involved in somewhat of a surprising trade earlier this week, as they parted ways with several draft picks in order to bring in Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson. Clarity on why they made the move was later provided, as their incumbent tight end Irv Smith Jr. figures to be sidelined for a couple of months with an ankle injury.

Minnesota was a fan of Smith’s potential, and always spoke about getting the athletic player more involved in the offense for the last couple of preseasons. Whether it was due to injury or a lack of interest in actually following through on that plan, Smith never really got the chance to show what he could do. Hockenson is a much more polished product at this stage of his career, and it’ll be interesting to see whether quarterback Kirk Cousins actively looks his way in the passing game. The Pro Bowler left Detroit with 26 catches in seven games.

The Heinicke Factor

While it is understandable why the Commanders continue to look in every direction to find an answer at quarterback, it’s at least somewhat possible that the best option they have has been under their nose for a few years. Despite lacking some of the talent of the players Washington has brought in under center, Taylor Heinicke seems to be able to rally his teammates in a way that others have not in the nation’s capital.

Washington is on a two game winning streak with Heinicke under center, punctuated by comeback wins against the Green Bay Packers and the Colts last week. Heinicke successfully completed a quarterback sneak late in the fourth quarter, which pumped him and the rest of the team up. Even though their matchup with the Vikings is a mismatch on paper, don’t be surprised if Heinicke can coax another inspirational effort out of the offense.

Organizational Momentum

Some potentially big news was revealed earlier this week about the Commanders franchise. Longtime owner Dan Snyder is working with Bank of America to look into the possibility of selling part or all of the franchise.

This development will likely have a minimal impact on what takes place on the field, but there’s a solid opportunity for the Commanders to take advantage of the goodwill around the organization. Snyder has very few fans across the league and amongst Washington fans, and a win on Sunday would continue the positive vibes that are around the team at the present time.