The Vikings are out of the playoff picture but are playing for pride. They want to defend their turf. Plus, Jared Allen wouldn't mind padding his sacks, Adrian Peterson wouldn't mind racking up more rushing yards and Christian Ponder could use a little practice.
Either way, both teams badly want to win. So far, it's looking like the game will come down to who has the more effective running game. Ponder and Oakland QB Carson Palmer have looked good, but it's the running backs doing the damage.
Here are five adjustments the Vikings can make at halftime to assure a win:
1. Replace AD
Guess who's responsible for the Vikings' first touchdown? Adrian Peterson. Guess who is on the sidelines getting his ankle looked at right now? Adrian Peterson. The guy is the most impressive, physically-imposing rusher in the NFL and now the Raiders seem to have caught a break.
The Vikes need to find someone to step up and at least semi-fill that void at running back until Peterson is back. Ponder doesn't need all that pressure at the helm and the game plan is pretty shattered without a back who can pick up yards.
2. Stuff the Run Game
On the flip side, the Vikings' front seven needs to slow down Michael Bush and this Raider rushing attack. Just because Darren McFadden is out doesn't mean Oakland can't run. Bush has been one of the best number two backs in the NFL this season and has already done some damage today.
The Vikings need to stack the box against the run on obvious run downs. Bush likes to hit holes in the middle and rumble through, whereas other guys like to bust it outside and make moves in the open field. When it's Bush, they need to stack it and get a hit on him early.
3. Secondary: Don't Get Burned
This Minnesota secondary has been struggling a little bit lately, which doesn't bode well against the Raiders for a couple reasons. First, despite the lack of star power in the receiving corps, Oakland's receivers are really, really fast. Second, they set up the pass with the run very well.
The running game will open up space for the Raiders, but the game will be won through the air for them. Without McFadden, their backs don't really have big-play ability, but they can beat you deep with the speedy wideouts. The Viking defensive backs need to stick tight to those receivers and give a little cushion before the snap.
4. Protect Ponder
This isn't a shot at Ponder. All young QBs go through the same thing, but because he's a young QB, he does get a little panicked when getting rushed. He tends to get happy feet and make worse decisions when someone's coming at him.
The Minnesota offensive line really needs to give him some time and create a pocket he can comfortably throw from. Otherwise, if he takes a big hit or sack, he will be more prone to throwing another interception or fumbling the ball away.
5. Take a Shot
Why not? Percy Harvin is one of the fastest players in the NFL. Give him a shot at making a double move, getting open off a pump-fake or play action...something! If he can get a little separation on a deep route, I guarantee he will out-run the secondary.
When that happens, Ponder just has to make the throw and you've got yourselves a big gain at least, most likely a touchdown. With Peterson sidelined for now, something needs to happen to spark the Minnesota offense. Let your second-best playmaker be that spark.