Oakland Raiders vs. Minnesota Vikings: 5 Halftime Adjustments Raiders Must Make
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 sack statistics, Adrian Peterson wouldn't mind racking up the 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 big adjustments the Raiders can make at halftime to assure a big road win:
1. Don't Get Caught Off Guard
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. So, the Raiders need to make sure to not be content with not having to worry about AP. You don't want to be caught by surprise by a guy coming off the bench and having a career game.
2. Pound the Ball
On the flip side, Michael Bush and this Raider rushing attack is pretty ridiculous. Just because Darren McFadden is out doesn't mean Oakland can't run. Bush has been one of the best number two's in the NFL this season and has already done some damage today.
The Raiders need to mix up the play call and keep pounding the running game. Bush likes to hit holes in the middle and rumble through, whereas the other guys like to bust it outside and make moves in the open field. So, pound it with Bush and then offset it with runs off-tackle.
3. Use the Speed
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, those guys are really, really fast. And 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 ultimately won through the air for them. Carson Palmer and the offense need to keep taking shots down field with guys like Darrius Heyward-Bey who can burn the defenders deep.
4. Get to Ponder
All young QBs go through the same growing pains. So, because Ponder is 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.
So, the Oakland D-line really needs to keep collapsing the pocket and getting hits on Ponder. If he takes a big hit or sack, he will be more prone to throwing another interception or fumbling the ball away.
5. Get in FG Range
Even with a bum hamstring, Sebastian Janikowski is the best kicker in the NFL. He should be comfortable hitting 40-yarders with the hammy. This means the Raiders don't necessarily need to get all the way to the red zone.
If they can consistently get in field goal range, they will rack up points. And the way their defense is paying, that might be all it takes. Of course, they shouldn't settle for field goals, I'm just saying they don't need to panic and make bad decisions just to get a touchdown. It's a luxury most teams don't have.
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