The Oakland Raiders travel to the Midwest to take on a struggling Minnesota Vikings franchise this Sunday afternoon, to improve on their 5-4 record.
The Raiders are in first place of the AFC West this late in the season, for the first time since 2002, and look to remain in that spot. They must take care of a talented, but frustrated Vikings team.
On the offensive side of things, the Raiders must maintain the balance between the passing and running game. Raiders’ quarterback, Carson Palmer, looks to have shaken off the mid-season rust and regained his form from several years ago. Oakland’s vertical passing attack has been re-established, thanks to Palmer, wide-out Jacoby Ford and rookie wide receiver, Denarius Moore. The Raiders must remain consistent in spreading the ball down the field to keep this Vikings defense honest.
But we all know Palmer and the Raiders are at there best, when they first establish the run.
Oakland running back, Michael Bush has put together a three-game string of high productivity, in place of injured running back Darren McFadden. He rushed for 157 yards last week against the Chargers, and had 85 receiving yards to match. If McFadden is not able to go on Sunday, look for Bush to continue his roll of setting the tone for the Raiders offense. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Raiders will be highly productive in the running game, since they are facing a team that ranks sixth against the run, not to mention a beast at defensive end, named Jared Allen(leads league in sacks with 13 1/2). The O-line definitely has their work cut out for them.
On defense, the Raiders need not let the 2-7 record of the Vikings fool them, because they still have arguably, the best running back in the league in Adrian Peterson. The Raiders front seven will have to step up to the challenge of containing Peterson, if they want to disrupt this Vikings offense.
I’m pretty sure defensive coordinator, Chuck Bresnahan defensive game plan is to force Vikings rookie quarterback, Christian Ponder, to beat them with his arm. Expect alot blitzes from Bresnahan’s defense, especially from the safety position, as they look to make Ponder play with a scattered brain for most of the ball game.
Throughout all of the adversity, head coach, Hue Jackson has found a way to overcome a terrible number of obstacles. He has succeeded in some, and failed a little at others. But all of that doesn’t matter for now, because the Raiders have a chance to control their own destiny. It’s games like this that lets you know whether or not, your team is ready to compete for a division title and make it to the playoffs.
Simply put, can and will Oakland take care of business against an inferior team on the road? We’ll see if this Raider squad has learned how to become a consistent winner by Sunday evening.
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Written by Arthur Kai