5 Bold Predictions: Minnesota Vikings vs. Washington Commanders – Week 9

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) Za’Darius Smith /

Smith will get three more sacks vs. the Commanders

Za’Darius Smith has been as advertised after signing with the Vikings this past offseason, leading the NFL with 8.5 sacks. The reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Month capped off his campaign last week with three sacks against the Cardinals and could do the same thing against the Commanders on Sunday.

Washington ranks 29th in PFF’s latest offensive line rankings, and like the Vikings, the Commanders have been prone to pressure along the interior of the offensive line. PFF also charted center Tyler Larsen and Cornelius Lucas with seven pressures each in last week’s win over the Indianapolis Colts, and you could argue they’ll be facing a better pass rush on Sunday.

With the Vikings coaching staff moving Smith all over the formation, he should have the matchups to get to Taylor Heinicke. If that happens, Heinicke could struggle as he has posted a 28.2 passer rating under pressure this season – third worst in the NFL behind New York’s Zach Wilson and New England’s Taylor Jones.

All of this means Smith could be in for another big game, but don’t rule out the rest of the Vikings’ front seven from joining the party. No matter who it is, Heinicke could be in plenty of trouble on Sunday.