Raiders vs Vikings: Which Team Has the Edge in Every Phase of the Game?

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst INovember 18, 2011

Raiders vs Vikings: Which Team Has the Edge in Every Phase of the Game?

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    The Oakland Raiders are going into Minnesota for a big game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Every game is big for the Raiders these days, because the Raiders lead every team in the AFC West by just one game.

    So of course, Raiders fans want to know just how likely it is that the Raiders win on Sunday. For that, I have broken down each team in every phase of the game to see who has the edge in each one.

    Read on to see how it came out.

Running Game

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    The Raiders are the No. 4 ranked rushing team in the NFL while the Vikings are ranked No. 5. Looking at where the teams are statistically, the slight edge could go to the Raiders, but it isn't that simple.

    The Raiders have slid down to No. 4 with the loss of Darren McFadden, after being the No. 1 rushing team at one point this season. The Vikings have climbed up to No. 5 after the Donovan McNabb experiment failed—forcing the Vikings to start a rookie quarterback and lean more on Adrian Peterson.

    Michael Bush ran for 157 yards in McFadden's stead last Thursday, but the Raiders running game no longer has the quick-strike threat to it without McFadden. But the Vikings have their ball-control and quick-strike back with a healthy Peterson Sunday.

    I would call this even if McFadden were playing, but he isn't.

    Advantage goes to the Vikings.

Passing Game

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    Sidney Rice is now a Seattle Seahawk, and that may have affected McNabb's stint as the Viking's starter. Rice isn't coming back, so the rookie quarterback will also suffer from having Percy Harvin without Rice.

    Meanwhile, Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer has all the weapons he could need at his disposal. It looks like he has found a rather potent one in last week's rookie of the week receiver Denarius Moore.

    In two starts this year, Palmer has thrown for 631 yards, five touchdowns, four interceptions and has a quarterback rating of 99.88. Ponder, in three starts, has thrown for 744 yards, three touchdowns, three interceptions and has a quarterback rating of 69.8.

    I only counted Palmer's starts—games he was prepared to play in.

    Either way, this is advantage for the Raiders.

Run Defense

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    The Raiders haven't stopped the run since 2002 while the Vikings, from 2006 to now, have finished No. 1 against the run three times and haven't finished outside the Top 10.

    Things haven't changed much so far this year, either. The Vikings are currently No. 6 while the Raiders are No. 25.

    One interesting bit is that the Raiders have allowed 69 yards per game against conventional running teams. They've allowed 209 yards per gave against teams that run the ball from the shotgun or spread against them.

    That being said, this is an advantage for the Vikings.

Pass Defense

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    The Vikings are ranked No. 31 against the pass, while the Raiders are ranked No. 22. However, that doesn't tell the whole story. The Raiders are starting to get healthy in the secondary with DeMarcus Van Dyke back.

    Both he and fellow corner Stanford Routt are in the Top 10 in burn percentage and yards allowed. To go with them, newly acquired veteran corner Lito Sheppard played well last week in Van Dyke's stead.

    Michael Huff will be back at free safety and slot corner too.

    On the other side, the Vikings lost their only decent corner (Antoine Winfield), to a broken collarbone. The Raiders allowed 274 passing yards against the San Diego Chargers to the Vikings' 335.

    This advantage is the Raiders'.


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    When it comes to punting, there is no one better than Shane Lechler of the Raiders.Vikings punter Chris Kluwe isn't even in the Top 20, and if he were, he still wouldn't be close to as good as Lechler.

    Lechler is leading the league again in punting average, and he's No. 13 in net average despite having two punts returned for touchdowns. Kluwe has had only one punt returned for a touchdown, but he's No. 32 in net average.

    The advantage goes to the Raiders.

Punt Return

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    The Raiders have always looked for big plays out of the return game, but they don't get it out of their punt returners. Nick Miller was let go after he wasn't able to get things going, but I'd have to blame the whole return unit.

    Moore has since replaced him with no success.

    While Moore is averaging a paltry 8.6 yards per return, Minnesota's Marcus Sherels' average is alright, at 10.3. Neither one of these teams is lighting up the league in punt return average but the Raiders are worse.

    The advantage goes to the Vikings.


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    Everyone the football world over knows that Sebastien Janikowski can kick the football out of the stadium whenever he wants. But many times, he chooses to pooch-kick and catch the opposing return team off guard.

    On top of that, Janikowski has been kicking hurt the last few games, and he's still No. 14 in the NFL in touchbacks.

    Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell is No. 26 in touchbacks, and neither kicker has had one returned for a touchdown.

    But the average return on Janikowski is 21.5 yards to 24.7 for Longwell.

    Advantage for the Raiders here.

Kickoff Return

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    This would have been a great battle to see if Raiders speedy return man Jacoby Ford wasn't injured. The Vikings are going to have their guy in Harvin returning kicks, and he is pretty much a dead heat with Ford.

    Harvin averages 31.1 yards per return to Ford's 31. Both speedsters have 100-plus yard returns for touchdowns. Harvin has a 8-7 edge in returns over 20 yards, and Ford has a 2-1 edge in returns over 40 yards.

    That's as even as it gets, but Ford is out.

    Another advantage for the Vikings.

Field Goals

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    For my money, Janikowski is the best kicker in the NFL, but I'm not too sure about his health these days. He has a field goal percentage of 93 percent to Longwell's 73 percent.

    Janikowski also tied the NFL record for longest field goal (63 yards) this year, as Longwell's longest this year is 53. Janikowski is 5-6 for over 50 yards as Longwell is 2-3 from that distance.

    But again, I'm not sure of Janikowski's health.

    Advantage unknown.


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    When you look at all the advantages in every phase of the game, this appears to be an even game. But if Janikowski is healthy enough, that's a big edge that goes to the Raiders.

    Another big edge that goes to the Raiders is the passing game. However, the Vikings have Peterson and the Raiders haven't been the best against the run, but as I said before they've done well against the I.

    But, Peterson is a different type of running back and so was Foster. We'll just have to see. First place is right there for the Raiders if they want it.

    What are they going to do?