Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#471 Oakland Raiders 43 vs.
#472 Minnesota Vikings -9
Sunday, September 22, 2019 at 1:00pm EDT
U.S. Bank Syadium, Minneapolis
Written by Ricky Dimon

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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.

Road tripping

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.

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.”

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It’s time to stop talking about Brown in the same sentence as the Raiders; that is water under the bridge now. So the sentence just read is the last such one in this piece. But the bottom line is Oakland is short in the receiver department and that could be especially problematic against a defense as stout as Minnesota’s. It is unlikely that the home team will have to do much more than be conservative on offense, so Cousins won’t have to be special and Cook can control the clock. The Vikings are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 September contests and 36-15-1 ATS in their last 52 on fieldturf.

Prediction: Minnesota Vikings

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Minnesota’s defense held Atlanta’s dangerous offense to a modest 345 total yards–including just 73 on the round–in Week 1. Green Bay had a more balanced attack but still finished with a similar 335-yard effort. There is no reason to think Oakland will fare even that well. The under is 18-7-1 in the Raiders’ last 26 overall, 7-3-1 in their last 11 on the road, and 7-2 in their last nine after scoring less than 15 points in their previous outing. It is also 4-0 in the Vikings’ last four overall, 5-1 in their last six at home, and 5-1 in their last six following a loss. Count on this one staying under the total.

Prediction: Under
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Written By Ricky Dimon

A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to joining the Winners & Whiners Staff, he worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.