The Raiders success on offense this Sunday in Minnesota relies on the massive shoulders of the offensive line. The big boys up front dominated the Chargers defensive line last Thursday night, providing big holes for Michael Bush and a solid pocket for Carson Palmer. But it’s a horse of a different color waiting for them in Minnesota: a big purple horse wearing number 69.
Match-ups To Watch
LT Jared Veldheer vs. DE Jared Allen
Jared Allen leads the Vikings front seven. He is a tenacious, relentless pass rusher, and leads the NFL with 13.5 sacks. His motor never stops, he has a wide range of pass rush moves and has embarrassed even the league’s best tackles. He can electrify the loud raucous crowd in Minnesota with one play, and it’ll be up to 6’8” left tackle Jared Veldheer to slow him down. Don’t expect him to shoulder the burden alone, Hue Jackson will have tight ends Kevin Boss or Brandon Myers stay in and pass block on some plays, and he may also chip Allen with a back. The other way to slow Allen down is to attack him directly in the run game.
RB Michael Bush vs. Vikings’ Front Seven
The Raiders will go with Michael Bush again this week, and he should be running behind that left side right at Jared Allen. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams is a load up front, so expect him to draw a lot of double teams from Cooper Carlisle and Samson Satele. The Vikings are excellent against the run, allowing only 93 yards a game, so it’ll be strength versus strength on Sunday. However, this is the first time this year Vikings unit has faced a rushing team in the top seven.
QB Carson Palmer vs. Vikings’ Secondary
Carson Palmer torched the Chargers secondary with the deep ball. The Vikings are 30th in the NFL against the pass, and will be without veteran CB Antoine Winfield. Minnesota used a lot of 2-deep zone against GB on Monday Night, and expect to see some of that early to try to neutralize the Raiders speed. Palmer needs to be patient, go through his reads and has to be okay with hitting some of the underneath routes. If he gets enough time, he should be able to pick apart this Vikings defense, even without Jacoby Ford and Darren McFadden.
With Jacoby Ford out Sunday Heyward-Bey will need to step up. He has only one catch since Carson Palmer became the starting quarterback. Heyward-Bey will be matched up against Vikings corner Cedric Griffin, a favorable match-up even with the poor production the last two games. Look for a big bounce back game from Heyward-Bey on Sunday.
Raiders 30, Vikings 20
I think the Raiders defense slows down Adrian Peterson and the offensive line keeps Carson Palmer’s jersey clean enough to attack that Vikings secondary.