The Oakland Raiders are coming off a tough loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and are returning home in hopes of winning the Minnesota Vikings to get back above .500.
The Vikings took quarterback Teddy Bridgewater ahead of Derek Carr, allowing the Raiders the opportunity to take Carr in the second round, who appears to be the franchise quarterback the Raiders have so desperately needed.
Bridgewater, who’s coming off of a concussion suffered last week, has posted a 12-8 record in his 20 games as a starter. This week, he’s completed 64 percent of his passes for 1,670 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions. Bridgewater possesses solid legs who can scramble for first downs and get some yards on the ground, making it necessary for the Raiders defense to contain him.
Rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs has emerged as Bridgewater’s top target this season, hauling in 28 receptions for 461 yards and two touchdowns. Diggs possesses solid size and speed, making him a dangerous weapon for the Vikings. With safety Nate Allen returning, it looks like second-year defensive back TJ Carrie will move back to the corner position and could be in charge of Diggs. Carrie is a good size matchup to take on Diggs.
There’s no doubt that the Vikings offense starts with Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson, who missed last year due to suspension. Peterson leads the charge on the ground with 169 yards for 758 yards and four touchdowns.
The Raiders had the second-best rush defense heading into last week, but struggled last week against the Steelers. Steelers’ veteran running back DeAngelo Williams carved up the Raiders defense for 170 yards on the ground, along with two touchdowns. The Vikings rely heavily on the run, making it even more crucial for the Raiders to stop the Vikings rushing attack this week.
Carr has had a chip on his shoulder ever since dropping to the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft and despite being a confident kid to begin with, there’s no doubt that he’ll have an added chip when going against another quarterback that went ahead of him.
Carr will face another tough matchup this week as they face another top-10 defensive unit, allowing just 332 yards per contest. It’s been especially tough against the passing game, giving up only 220.6 passing yards per game. Carr and the Raiders will have to limit turnovers against a team that has produced nine takeaways this season.
Donald Penn and the Raiders offensive line must keep an eye on defensive end Everson Griffen, who leads the squad with 4.5 sacks.
Raiders running back Latavius Murray left last week’s matchup against the Steelers with a concussion, but appears ready to play after practicing in full on Friday and being listed as probable for the game.
The Vikings are much more vulnerable in the rushing attack, allowing 118 yards on the ground a game, 18th in the NFL. The Raiders must get their rushing attack going to facilitate the play-action pass, as well as keeping the defense guessing.
This could prove to be a crucial game for the Raiders in the playoff race after they have lost some close games late with the clock winding down.
The Silver & Black will head out on the road to Detroit to take on a struggling Lions team next week.