The Minnesota Vikings will be hoping to bounce back from their first loss of the season when they entertain the Oakland Raiders at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Oakland heads into Week 3 at 1-1, the same record as Minnesota. With the Antonio Brown saga in the rearview mirror, head coach Jon Gruden’s squad took care of Denver 24-16 and then lost to Kansas City 28-10. Both of those contests came at home, so this marks the Raiders’ first road game of the season. And they won’t be back in Oakland for a long, long time. They do not play home again until Nov. 3; during this stretch they have four road games, a “home” contest in London, and a bye.
“(I’m) still trying to figure out how that happened,” head coach Jon Gruden said of the schedule. “Unprecedented…. Unrealistic.”
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The Raiders missed Brown on the field against the Chiefs. They got by the Broncos without their expected top receiver, but it was a big problem against Kansas City. Brown was a bigger problem when he was around, though, and Oakland released him for obvious reasons. That ignited an unfavorable chain reaction, making No. 2 receiver Tyrell Williams (who was signed to a four-year deal worth $11 million annually) the new top option. Williams has acted accordingly, but he is not getting much help. Ryan Grant was a virtual no-show against the Chiefs, J.J. Nelson is hurt, and rookie slot receiver Hunter Renfrow may not be ready for the big show that is the NFL.
No screwing around
Minnesota opened with a 28-12 home win over Atlanta before falling at Green Bay 21-16. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been unspectacular through two weeks, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He had 232 passing yards the Packers with a touchdown, but had two interceptions and a fumble. Head coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t appear to be worried-right ow.
“He’s going to be fine,” Zimmer said. “We have the utmost confidence in him. He’s in a good place where he’s going to play good this week and continue to play good for the rest of the year.”
“It’s nice to be believed in,” Cousins said on Wednesday. “You’ve got to go out and earn it, though. In this league, no one’s giving you anything. This isn’t a charity. You’ve got to play well to earn peoples’ confidence, so if he’s saying that, it’s because he’s seen practice reps, he’s seen game reps, he’s seen what we’re capable of as an offense throwing the football. So you’ve got to go out and earn it.
But it’s in the running game where the Vikings have changed considerably more offensively, and those adjustments have shown up over the first two games. After ranking 30th in the NFL with 93.3 rushing yards per game in 2018, they are so far are averaging 185 yards per game–tied with Indianapolis for second in the league. Dalvin Cook has shouldered most of the workload, having already racked up 265 yards on the ground.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) September 19, 2019
Gruden is preparing for a tough atmosphere all the way around, especially in the form of both noise and Minnesota’s well-respected defense.
“It is really loud in there,” Gruden said of U.S. Bank Stadium. “I can’t wait to hear the horn; that Viking [Gjallarhorn]. I love that thing…. It’s kind of like a 1980 or 1975 team. They’ve been together [for a long time]; playing together at every level in the same system is uncommon. They don’t screw around on defense. They’re really good, man. Really good…. They get these pass rushers a lot of at-bats, and they can rip it. Everson Griffen is back; he is playing really well. And Danielle Hunter’s one of the best unknown defensive ends in the league…. They know where all the snakes are in every coverage.”
The Oakland Raiders are:
- 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven games after allowing more than 250 passing yards in their previous game
The Minnesota Vikings are:
- 37-16-1 ATS in their last 54 home games
- 35-16-1 ATS in their last 52 games following a loss
- 7-1 ATS in their last eight games after rushing for more than 150 yards in their previous game