christian ponder vikings
Christian Ponder will start over Josh Freeman. Reuters

The Washington Redskins aren’t ready to give up hope for the 2013 NFL season just yet. After a 0-3 start, Mike Shanahan's squad still has a legitimate chance to make the playoffs.

The defending NFC East champs currently sit 1.5 games behind the Dallas Cowboys. They’ve gone 3-2 since their winless start, and hope to get one step closer towards .500 when they meet the Minnesota Vikings on "Thursday Night Football." The contest marks the start of the second half of the season for Washington. Five of their final eight games will come against teams with losing records, including Minnesota, who has just one victory.

"The fans want to have something to believe in, and the players want to have something to believe in," Robert Griffin III said. "And because of the way our division is set up right now, we have something to believe in and we know we can control our own destiny."

They have losses to both the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, but the Redskins still have four NFC East games left. They have yet to play the New York Giants, who are just 2-6.

Washington showed some resiliency in their win on Sunday over the San Diego Chargers. In the final minute of regulation, they stopped their opponent on three consecutive tries from the one-yard line forcing, forcing them to tie the game with a field goal. The Redskins went on to win in overtime.

“Do you like the fight in the guys? Absolutely,” DeAngelo Hall said after the game, according to the CSN Washington. “Do you wish you weren’t in that situation? Absolutely. There are a lot of things we can learn from that and a lot of things we have to work on, but you can see the resiliency in these guys and get the stop. That’s almost impossible there—when a team has the ball like that with a few seconds left on the clock, that’s a tough situation to be in. But these guys just kept fighting.”

Despite Minnesota’s 1-7 record, they might not be a pushover. They came seconds away from upsetting the Cowboys last week. The Vikings fell in Dallas after a Tony Romo completed a touchdown pass with 35 seconds remaining.

Christian Ponder will get his third straight start after being benched earlier in the year. He hasn’t put up big numbers, but gave his team a chance to win, with help from 140 rushing yards by Adrian Peterson. Since he replaced Josh Freeman in Week Eight, the quarterback has completed over 67 percent of his passes for 381 yards, one touchdown and one interception in two games.

"As we speak, I don't see why we would make a change," head coach Leslie Frazier said Sunday, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "Sometimes after ballgames you make emotional decisions, but I don't see anything that tells me he shouldn't start against the Redskins."

On the road, the Redskins are a 2.5-point favorite, with the total set at 49.5 points. It’s the third-highest of Week 10, which isn’t surprising considering Minnesota and Washington rank 30th and 31st, respectively, in points allowed. Both teams are 3-5 against the spread.

Prediction: Washington 30, Minnesota 23