What more could anyone ask for than the 5-2 Vikings to face a bad Washington (1-6) team at home to help Kirk Cousins fix his prime-time woes?
It's the perfect recipe, as evidenced by Vegas oddsmakers making the Vikings massive 16.5-point favorites. Cousins is 0-4 on Thursday Night Football and if he is 0-5 after tonight he'll be under immense pressure entering a difficult back-to-back against the Chiefs and Cowboys the next two weeks.
Anyway, here are three talkers going into the game, followed by staff predictions.
1. Will "Kurt" Cousins light up his former team?
Kirk Cousins will face Washington for the first time since leaving them for Minnesota as a free agent in 2017. The big question Thursday night is how motivated Cousins is to pay back the team that slapped him with a franchise tag twice, and whose GM Bruce Allen called him "Kurt" Cousins FIVE times during a single interview in 2017.
Cousins is red-hot, having passed for 10 touchdowns and one interception in his last three games.
Case Keenum also gets a crack at the Vikings for the first time in a regular season game, but his road is uphill against a staunch Minnesota defense whereas Cousins gets to go against a team surrendering 25+ points per game.
2. Who steps up in place of Adam Thielen?
Thielen is out with a strained hamstring, so the expectation is for rookie Bisi Johnson to again take a lot of Thielen's reps. It's probably also a good bet that tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. will have increased roles in the passing game.
Might we see a rare Laquon Treadwell touchdown tonight? Anything is possible.
3. Dalvin Cook unstoppable?
What do you get when you put the NFL's leading rusher against the NFL's 27th-ranked rushing defense? A monster game, probably. Dalvin Cook leads the NFL in rushing (735 yards) and he'll face a defense that is allowing a gaudy 134.4 rushing yards per game.
Oh, and did we mention that Washington's defense has been gashed by the likes David Montgomery and Wayne Gallman? Yeah, we like Cook's chances, too.
Joe Nelson, sports director
This is going to be a blowout of massive proportions, and I've got a feeling Dalvin Cook is going to rush for 200 yards and Case Keenum will finally connect on all those narrowly missed pick-sixes he tried to throw as QB of the Vikings. Cook goes crazy and the Vikes get two defensive touchdowns in a slaughter.
Final score: Vikings 48, Washington 10
Adam Uren, editor
Things start off badly when both Kirk Cousins and Case Keenum enter the wrong locker rooms at U.S. Bank Stadium., while Adrian Peterson enters both atop an elephant and demands two lockers in each. By the second quarter, the Vikings are up 14-3 and Joe Buck has mentioned the Minneapolis Miracle 11,000 times, causing most Fox viewers to switch to Amazon Prime. The Vikings ultimately win comfortably because Mike Zimmer has spent the week hypnotizing Cousins so he thinks it's noon on Sunday rather than prime time.
Final score: Vikings 38, Washington 11
Chris Schad, sports writer
There is just about zero reason for the Vikings to lose this game unless they want to re-create the Buffalo debacle from last year. Minnesota is better at every level than Washington is and even without Adam Thielen, they should be able to win this game handily. Mix in a mistake-prone Case Keenum against Mike Zimmer’s defense and this should be a bloodbath.
Final score: Vikings 34, Washington 7