Vikings-Commanders game has many layers of intrigue, on and off the field

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With eight games in the early window on Sunday, Vikings at Commanders doesn’t really stand out. Maybe it should.

The game between 6-1 Minnesota and 4-4 Washington has plenty of intrigue, both on and off the field.

Most obviously, former Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins returns to FedEx Field for the first time since joining the Vikings as a free agent in 2018. Cousins beat his old team in one prior meeting, on a Thursday night three years ago at U.S. Bank Stadium. Now, he’s coming back to the place where he made “you like that!” a Peter Brady time-to-change catch phrase.

But Cousins isn’t the only quarterback crossing paths with a former team. Commanders current starter Taylor Heinicke was a member of the Minnesota roster in 2016. But for a “freak accident” that severed a tendon above his left ankle in July of that year, he may have been the quarterback to whom the Vikings turned after Teddy Bridgewater suffered a late-August, non-contact ACL tear.

Also, Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell spent three years as an assistant in Washington, his longest stint with any NFL team as a player or coach. Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips (son of Wade and grandson of Bum) spent five years in D.C., as tight ends coach.

Then there’s Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who was responsible for a few dust-ups as a middle linebacker in Minnesota from 1992 through 1995.

Away from the field, the Snyder factor dominates. On Wednesday, current ownership of the Commanders announced that the team is on the market. It sparked unrestrained jubilation from the fans. It could result in more Commanders fans than SKOLsters on Sunday. And it could result in a proliferation of pointed messages regarding the future of the franchise.

Two weeks ago, FedEx Field workers supposedly told fans to ditch the “sell the team” signs. But Snyder’s minions can’t silence the voices. And Wednesday’s news counts as chum in the water for a fan base that is famished for new ownership.

So, yes, things could get very interesting today as the Vikings try to push their record to an inconceivable 7-1, and the Commanders try to get above .500 after only nine games. Regardless of what happens on the field, what happens in the stands could be even more compelling.

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