[This is the two teams'] 13th regular-seaon meeting. Raiders lead series, 8-4. Vikings won the last meeting 29-22 on Nov. 18, 2007 as Chester Taylor ran for 164 yards and scored on runs of 10, 38 and 6 yards. For the Raiders, Daunte Culpepper, playing against his former team, passed for 344 yards, and Sebastian Janikowski kicked five field goals. The Raiders beat the Vikings 32-14 in Super Bowl XI in Pasadena for their first championship on Jan. 9, 1977.
Both the Raiders rookie receiver Denarius Moore and the Vikings rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph made spectacular one-handed catches in prime-time games last week. While Rudolph has been a bright spot for the Vikings, Moore has kept the Raiders in the playoff picture by giving Carson Palmer exactly what he needs, on and off the field. "Denarius Moore doesn’t say anything," Palmer told The San Francisco Chronicle. Having spent a year living through "The T.Ocho Show," Palmer deserves a little therapeutic silence. Pick: Raiders.
Vikings offensive line vs. Raiders pass rush
When Christian Ponder does drop back to pass, he’ll need to get the ball out quickly or risk taking some shots from a physical and talented Oakland defensive line. Minnesota’s offensive line hasn’t given Ponder, and Donavan McNabb before him, the greatest protection this season and anything less than their best efforts here could cause problems for Ponder. The Vikings are especially weak in pass protection off the edge. Tackles Charlie Johnson and Phil Loadholt have allowed a combined 12 sacks and their cumulative pass protection grades (-8.7 and -14.9 respectively) leave much to be desired.
Kamerion Wimbley (+28.4) will look to take advantage of this when he rushes from the edge in the nickel. Second only to Von Miller in our SLB rankings, Wimbley put on a dominant four sack performance on Thursday Night Football in his last appearance and though he won’t be rushing against backups this time around, he’s more than capable of making disruptive plays against this pair of tackles. On the interior, long-time stars Richard Seymour (+15.1) and Steve Hutchinson (+10.2) will have the opportunity to try and beat each other. Even without taking Wimbley into consideration, all four starting Raiders defensive linemen grade out well in pass rushing, while only Hutchinson has graded in the green in pass protection for the Vikings.
Raiders offensive line vs. Vikings defensive line
In both the running game and passing game, Minnesota’s defensive line has a distinct advantage over the Raiders’ offensive line. The most interesting battle in the trenches is between left tackle Jared Veldheer (+3.2) and DRE Jared Allen (+25.6), with rookie left guard Stefen Wisniewski providing help. Veldheer grades out as the Raiders best offensive lineman with Wisniewski being the only other starter with a positive grade, while Allen would be the best player on most defensive lines.
While the rest of the Raiders offensive line grades out poorly, Allen has plenty of help. DLE Brian Robison (+9.4) has cooled off considerably after a sizzling start, but showed he could be a pass-rushing menace over the first five games. Kevin Williams has been one of the best interior rushers in the league his entire career and plays the run effectively as well. Players like Erin Henderson (+15.7) have no trouble filling the gap and finishing plays. Bush isn’t really the type of runner to force a lot of missed tackles, so the Raiders’ rushing attack could be in trouble if his line can’t keep the Vikings out of the backfield.
CSN Bay Area: Raiders lead the NFL in big plays.
The stats supplied by STATS LLC bear this out. Consider: Oakland's 54 plays of at least 20 yards leads the NFL. The league average, meanwhile, is 36.
Hue Jackson's "build a bully" mantra begins in the trenches and, accordingly, the Raiders have a league-leading 17 runs of at least 20 yards this season. The league average? Seven.
And the addition of Carson Palmer has not hindered the vertical game so loved by the late Davis, and embodied by former QB Daryle "The Mad Bomber" Lamonica. In fact, it's only been enhanced.In 76 attempts, Palmer has 17 completions of at least 20 yards; Jason Campbell had 17 such completions in 165 attempts.
And Palmer is seven-for 16 for 237 yards with three touchdowns and an interception for a 104.2 passer rating on passes of at least 21 yards through the air.
This week, Palmer will feast on a Minnesota defense that has given up 18 touchdown passes (only Indianapolis has allowed more). The Vikings' Achilles heel has been the big play, having allowed eight completions of 40 or more yards. And to make matters worse, Minnesota will be without cornerback Antoine Winfield (broken clavicle).
The Raiders have one of the AFC's most exciting young receiving corps, as three receivers have recorded a 100-yard game at some point this year. Of them, Denarius Moore offers the most potential this week. Palmer threw to the rookie almost exclusively last week after Jacoby Ford was lost to an injury. [We] can expect more of the same against Minnesota.