After a pair of road games sandwiched on either side of a Week 9 bye, the Vikings will return to Mall of America Field this Sunday for a contest against the Oakland Raiders. This will be the first time the Vikings and Raiders have met since 2007, and it will also mark the 3rd of 4 games the Vikings will play against AFC West opponents (they play the Denver Broncos in Week 13).
The Raiders come into this matchup following a momentous 24-17 road victory over the San Diego Chargers last week. The win improved Oakland’s record to 5-4 and it put them atop the AFC West. The game was played last Thursday night, so the Raiders have had a few extra days to rest, heal and prepare for this game against the Vikings.
Oakland has a pair of impressive wins, having defeated the New York Jets 34-24 in Week 3 and the Houston Texans 25-20 on the road in Week 5, only days after the passing of their owner Al Davis. But they also have a couple of head-scratching losses, falling to the Kansas City Chiefs at home by a score of 28-0 and then dropping another home decision against the Broncos just two weeks ago.
The Raiders have the NFL’s 9th-ranked offense, averaging 384.9 yards per game, and they excel on the ground, where they have the NFL’s 4th-ranked rushing offense and average 156.2 rushing yards per game. Oakland’s running game is a power-rushing attack that features Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, along with a big, physical offensive line. McFadden is the more skilled RB, but his status is in question for this game. If McFadden can’t go, the Raiders are still in good shape because Bush is a more-than-capable replacement. In fact, last week against the Chargers, Bush was the star of the show, rushing for 157 yards and 1 TD on 30 carries and also adding 85 receiving yards.
Another headliner on the Raiders offense is QB Carson Palmer. The Raiders had a significant need at QB because their starter at the beginning of the season – Jason Campbell – suffered a broken collarbone and was going to miss significant time. Palmer was acquired on October 19, appeared in his first game as a Raider just days later in Week 7, and then made his first start in Week 9 following the team’s bye. With a few games and nearly a month of practice to his credit in Oakland, Palmer might be poised to ignite a Raiders passing attack that features plenty of speed at wide receiver.
Defensively, Oakland ranks just 26th in yards allowed per game (378.4) and they rank in a tie for 27th in scoring defense, allowing 25.9 points per game. They allow 246.0 passing yards per game and 132.4 rushing yards per game, which both rank near the bottom of the NFL. Those numbers won’t intimidate you, but also don’t let them fool you. The Raiders have a group of capable, physical defenders.
Richard Seymour is a 6-time Pro Bowler and he anchors their defensive line. At the second level Oakland features Rolando McClain at middle LB and then Kamerion Wimbley at outside LB. McClain, a 1st-round pick (#8 overall) is coming into his own in the middle of that defense and Wimbley, also a 1st-round pick (#13 overall) is coming off a game in which he had 4.0 sacks and 1 pass defensed.
That’s a brief rundown of the Raiders. We’ll have plenty more about this matchup as today and the rest of the week roll along.
Stadium FAQ: Why did the Vikings choose Ramsey County to be their local partner?
For more than a year, the Vikings have had discussions with the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County and Ramsey County. During the process, Ramsey County has stepped up to be a willing and strong partner, and both the team and the County are excited about this stadium vision.
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