The 2011 Minnesota Viking Offense is very similar to the offense of the 2009 Oakland Raiders. Both of these offenses featured young developing quarterbacks and potentially game braking running backs. The Raiders won five games during the 2009 season. With the season more than halfway over Minnesota is 2-7, so finishing with a five-win season is a realistic goal for them. As a result, both of these offenses relayed on a strong running game to alleviate their ineptness in the passing game.
For the Vikings to be successful they have to get Adrian Peterson going. Peterson has earned the right to be regarded as the best running back in the NFL. The Raiders defense has contain him and remain disciplined. To be successful, the Vikings must take advantage when the Raiders defense plays undisciplined or gets too aggressive. Look for Christian Ponder to try to expose the Raiders’ linebackers in pass coverage and take try to connect with Percy Harvin when he is lined up against Demarcas Van Dyke or Lito Shepperd. The pressure is on the Raiders front seven to play with enough aggression to keep Peterson in check and simultaneously maintain gap discipline. The result of the game will hinge on the leadership and play of Richard Seymour and Rolando McClain.
Adrian Peterson vs. Rolando McClain
The Raiders have an inconsistent rush defense, that performs well in wins and abysmal in losses. As the quarterback of the defense, it is easy to criticize McClain, but he does deserve some praise. With Minnesota having an inept passing game, the pressure will be on McClain to lead the troops and to keep Peterson from taking over the game.
Aaron Curry vs. Christian Ponder
The Raiders play a lot of nickel, so Curry is on the field in less than ideal situations. Even though Curry is getting better in passing situations, he still remains a liability in coverage. If Ponder is to make Minnesota’s passing game respectable, a great place to start would be throwing to the target closest to Curry.
Kamerion Wimbley vs. Charlie Johnson
Wimbley has been getting after the opposing quarterback all season and finally cashed in with four sacks last week. Johnson and the Vikings offensive line have given up 25 sacks, contrast that with the Raiders giving up 11 sacks. It doesn’t help having a developing rookie as quarterback. If the Vikings are to convert third downs and sustain drives they will need good protection and that starts with containing Wimbley.
The Raiders defense could easily dominate the game. If they do, it is because they consistently stuffed the run and put Ponder in long down and distance situations. If the Raiders defense dominates the line of scrimmage it is because their defensive line, led by , is getting consistent penetration. Barring a systemic defense collapse the Raiders should win this game. If a collapse occurs, it is because their defensive captain, Seymour, played undisciplined and received multiple penalties.
Raiders 20, Vikings 13
The Raiders defense will not fall apart, but the game will stay close. Hue Jackson will use the pass to set up the run as Palmer picks apart Minnesota’s injured and helpless secondary.