Countdown to Paydirt: at Minnesota Vikings

Raider Nation, the moment is finally here. That moment you’ve been waiting for ever since the game clock hit zeroes on Dec. 29, 2013. Well, some of you have maybe been waiting for it since even before that.

Yes, that’s it! Raiders football will finally be back starting tonight when the Raiders take on the Minnesota Vikings in Minnesota. It may just be preseason football, but it will be most of Raider Nation’s first glimpse of their new team that hopes to improve on back-to-back 4-12 teams under Dennis Allen.

The Raiders present a massively overhauled roster with the offense now lead by quarterback Matt Schaub.

Schaub has had a solid training camp and appears to be getting on the same page with his wide receivers, especially James Jones. Jones has made his routes look effortless in training camp and virtually catching everything thrown his way.

Since it is preseason, we will also get to see rookie quarterback Derek Carr and his strong arm. The Raiders selected him in the second round of the draft with hopes that he can develop into the franchise quarterback that the team has desperately been looking for.

Carr has displayed his strong arm in camp but it will be good to see him going up against a different defense than the Raiders’.

The Vikings defense was ranked second to last year, giving up 397.6 yards per game. They were weakest defending against the pass, which means there’s potential for Schaub and Carr to find success through the air.

But expect their defense to be better than their numbers displayed last season as they brought in defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer. The rookie coach hopes to bring some defensive consistency to the team that gave up 30.0 points per game last year.

The game will also be the first NFL game for fifth-oveall selection Khalil Mack. Since day one, Mack has said he can’t wait to get out and hit someone in an NFL game. That moment will finally come when he takes the field Friday night.

Him and the defensive line will have the opportunity to try and chase rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who was drafted at the end of the first round back in May.

The Raiders were believed to be interested in Bridgewater as well but the Vikings got to him first. Zimmer has said that he will give his young quarterback some reps with the starting offense, though veteran Matt Cassel will be your “starter”.

Allen would not say how log the starters would remain in the game during his post-practice presser but I wouldn’t expect to see them for too long, especially for the veterans.

Though the score won’t mean much at the end of the game, Friday night will be a key piece in the evaluation process for Allen and his coaches.

Not to mention, it will be the first time Raider Nation gets to see their new team. Enjoy it Raider Nation, Raiders football is finally back and all 32 teams have a regular season of 0-0.

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