Minnesota Vikings vs. Oakland Raiders: Full Oakland Game Preview
The Derek Carr vs. Teddy Bridgewater comparison continues to spark heated discussions as to who’s the cream of the crop among the quarterbacks in the 2014 draft class. The Raiders selected Carr four spots after the Vikings chose Bridgewater. Both signal-callers have shown high potential in a short time span.
Interestingly, both teams chose outside linebackers with their first-round picks in 2014. The Raiders selected Khalil Mack four spots before the Vikings drafted Anthony Barr. Both players recorded four sacks in their rookie years.
In addition, Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave left Minnesota for a short stint as a quarterbacks coach with the Philadelphia Eagles before landing in Oakland.
Well, that’s enough of the personnel-related coincidences and hocus-pocus similarities. On the field, these two teams couldn’t be any more different in achieving wins.
The Vikings rely on ball control and a stingy defense to grind out victories. Adrian Peterson's 758 rushing yards tops all running backs. Minnesota ranks second in points allowed per game (17.5). The Vikings have perfected the art of winning ugly, but they're tied with the Green Bay Packers atop the NFC North with a 6-2 record.
The Raiders move the ball up and down the field with an explosive offense and a stout front seven. The offense ranks seventh in points per game (26.6). Oakland also boasts the eighth-ranked run defense. The Raiders' flashy offense draws eyes to the television and has propelled the team into playoff contention.
The clash between two conflicting winning formulas should draw a tight contest. To earn a victory, one team must impose its football philosophy over the opposition—we're in store for a slow-paced slugfest or a fast-paced track meet.
Let’s break down the matchup even further.
Location: Oakland Coliseum; Oakland, California
Date: Sunday, Nov. 15
Time: 1:05 p.m. PT / 4:05 p.m. ET
Week 9 Results and Recap
|AFC West Standings|
|Kansas City Chiefs||3||5|
|San Diego Chargers||2||7|
|AFC Wild Card Standings|
|New York Jets||5||3|
Oakland maintains second place in the AFC West. However, the Raiders took a step backward in the race for an AFC wild-card spot. After they earned a victory over the New York Jets, a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers dropped them to eighth via strength of schedule.
The Buffalo Bills and Jets kick off on Thursday Night Football, which helps the Raiders if they pull out a victory over the Vikings Sunday.
News and Notes
Del Rio on Armstrong Charge: "Silly"
According to WTAE-TV reporter Marcie Cipriani, linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong is the subject of a police investigation in Allegheny County after an incident at Heinz Field.
The alleged incident happened Sunday in a tunnel at the stadium, where Deputy Maria Watts said K-9 Banditt was patrolling for explosives near Gate 5 at the Steelers-Raiders game. Watts has identified the player as Ray-Ray Armstrong.
Watts told Pittsburgh's Action News 4 that us that Armstrong was aggressive and confrontational toward Banditt -- jumping, beating his chest, barking and yelling at the dog.
According to Cipriani’s report, taunting a police dog levies a third-degree felony charge in Pennsylvania. When asked about the investigation, head coach Jack Del Rio categorized the ordeal as "silly," per Sirius XM NFL Radio via ProFootballTalk’s Josh Alper.
“I think once the facts come to light I don’t think there’s going to be much of an issue. I wouldn’t make too much of it,” said Del Rio.
Obviously, it’s a sensitive matter, and it's unknown how it will affect Armstrong on or off the field as the investigation continues.
Teddy Bridgewater Limited at Practice
Bridgewater endured a big hit from St. Louis Rams cornerback Lamarcus Joyner in Week 9 and suffered a concussion.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer told local reporters that Bridgewater passed an initial test in the concussion protocol. Zimmer is optimistic about his quarterback's chances of playing on Sunday.
Bridgewater also practiced with limitations on Wednesday.
Raiders Offense, Vikings' Biggest Challenge
Based on Team Rankings, the Raiders offense poses the toughest challenge for the Vikings defense to date. In terms of points scored per game, the 12th-ranked Kansas City Chiefs have been the highest-scoring team on Minnesota’s schedule through eight games.
That’s not taking anything away from the Vikings, but they’ll run into an explosive offense in Oakland that ranks third in points scored per game over the last three contests.
However, the Raiders will monitor three key injuries on the offensive side of the ball over the next few days.
Latest Injury News
|Oakland Raiders Injury Report|
*DNP = Did not practice
*LP = Limited participation in practice
*FP = Full participation in practice
Oakland Raiders injury report courtesy of Raiders.com.
Rodney Hudson: Center Rodney Hudson sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter in the previous outing. CSNBayArea.com reporter Scott Bair spotted Hudson in a walking boot. Obviously, he didn’t practice.
Latavius Murray: Running back Latavius Murray continues to go through concussion protocol and missed practice, per San Jose Mercury News writer Jimmy Durkin.
Amari Cooper: Wide receiver Amari Cooper didn’t practice because of a quad injury. Durkin tweeted a Vine that showed Steelers safety Mike Mitchell's hit that may have caused the injury.
Clive Walford: Tight end Clive Walford also suffered a quad injury but managed to practice in full Wednesday.
T.J. Carrie: Cornerback T.J. Carrie practiced in full, which comes as encouraging news after he sat out a game.
Neiron Ball: Linebacker Neiron Ball continues to nurse a knee injury and remains unable to practice.
Charles Woodson: You already know the routine with safety Charles Woodson. He'll play.
Oakland Raiders Run Defense vs. Adrian Peterson
Once upon a time, the Raiders fielded the second-ranked run defense prior to Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams gashing the front seven for 170 yards last week.
The Raiders still boast the league’s eighth-best run defense and need a shutdown performance against Peterson. He’s topped 100 yards in his last two outings.
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. should consider using a 4-3 alignment with both Justin Ellis and Dan Williams plugging the middle or injecting Ben Heeney as an extra linebacker into a few run-stopping packages.
Amari Cooper vs. Xavier Rhodes
Hopefully, Cooper’s quad injury doesn’t jeopardize his availability Sunday. The Raiders need their rookie sensation to test Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
According to Pro Football Focus, Rhodes has surrendered five touchdowns in his third year. He’s somewhat of a risk-taker in passes defensed, but he doesn’t pose much of threat in forcing turnovers. He’s recorded one interception in 37 career games.
Carr should target Rhodes with Cooper. Even if the cornerback plays one of his better games, he's more likely to knock a pass down rather than take away a possession with an interception.
However, if Rhodes whiffs on breaking up a pass, Cooper could turn a mistake into a long gain or a score. Rhodes allows 12.6 yards per catch in addition to the five touchdowns.
X-Factors: Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith
X-Factors: Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith
Here's a familiar question: Is it time for Aldon Smith and Khalil Mack to explode as a disruptive duo in the sacks category?
Yes, teams have opted to double-team one or both edge-rushers, and there’s pressure folding the pocket. However, to reach the status as a dominant duo, Mack and Smith will have to beat some double-teams and take advantage of weaker pass protections.
Second, Bridgewater can escape pocket pressure with his legs to buy time for a throw to a streaking wideout in rookie Stefon Diggs.
The Vikings passing offense struggles behind a weak offensive line in pass protection and a disconnect between Bridgewater and wide receiver Mike Wallace. Despite Wallace’s struggles, the Raiders cannot allow the quarterback to remain upright and give his quick receivers a chance in extended routes.
Prediction: Raiders 23, Vikings 20
It’s almost impossible to make a prediction with some significant injuries that won’t sort themselves out until Friday or prior to kickoff. For argument’s sake, we’ll assume everyone plays Sunday.
The Raiders need Murray to balance the offense against the Vikings. Minnesota’s run defense ranks 18th, allowing 111.6 yards per game. Musgrave could draw the safety into the box to stop a productive rushing attack and then target the middle of the field with a tight end or slot receiver.
The Vikings field the sixth-best pass defense, but the Raiders offense poses a bigger threat than Minnesota’s past opponents on the perimeter.
Carr has come out of the Raiders' bye week (Week 6) with the hottest hand in the NFL among quarterbacks. He’s tied with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees for most touchdown passes (11) in the last three weeks with only one interception.
Musgrave will trust Carr in taking shots downfield to Cooper and Michael Crabtree. The Raiders won’t drop 30 points on a Vikings team that’s stingier with points on the road than at home, but they'll earn a victory.
Prediction: Raiders 23, Vikings 20
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