This Sunday the Raiders travel to Minnesota and face the Vikings. This game will feature two of the top five rushing teams in the league. While the Vikings run All Day (Adrian Peterson), their passing game is anemic. While defending the run is the Vikings’ strength, stopping the pass is their weakness. The Raiders’ offense leads the NFL with 56 plays over 20 yards and 11 plays over 40 yards, but the Raiders’ defense have given up more 20+ yard runs than any team.
Regardless of the numbers, the Raiders will take advantage of Vikings rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. Even though Minnesota has a stout defensive line, their offense remains unbalanced and largely ineffective. This will allow the Raiders to wear down the Vikings’ defensive line and make big plays. For good reason, the Raiders are favored to win this game, and barring another systemic defensive catastrophe, they will.
Taking a look at the other AFC West teams, we see Denver upsetting the Jets, San Diego traveling to Chicago, and Kansas City going to New England. Even though Denver won, San Diego and Kansas City are underdogs by at least three points. This weekend, the Raiders are expected to win, and their remaining divisional foes are expected to lose. If all goes as expected, at the conclusion of this week’s games the Raiders will have a one-game lead over Denver and a two-game lead over the other divisional teams. After this weekend, the Raiders will have six games left, the last two of which are divisional games.
With a victory this Sunday, the Raiders will gain momentum to make a serious run during the home stretch of the season. With games against Green Bay, Chicago, and Detroit looming, the Raiders have a chance to stake their claim in being an elite NFL team.
This weekend, the Raiders will take an important step in being a premier football team. They will become a team who controls their destiny and will take a serious step toward making the playoffs for the first time since 2002. So, Raider Nation: the Raiders are in the driver’s seat and the road is open. Cheers!