The Raiders kick off the second half of their 2015 season by welcoming the Vikings to town. The Raiders are 4-4 this season and their offense has been on fire the past few weeks. The Vikings are 6-2 and are a well-rounded team which grinds it out on offense, and is fundamentally sound on defense.
To see all the nuts and bolts details for the game including TV schedule, injury report, odds and more, click here.
Nate Allen return impact on Raiders defense
The best news for the Raiders is the return of Nate Allen. It may seem at this point that too much is being made of a guy like Nate Allen. But it isn't so much about whether he is the second coming of Jack Tatum, but rather a key piece which strengthens the entire secondary with his re-introduction into it. His return moves TJ Carrie back to cornerback which means he strengthens two positions. Charles Woodson - banged up shoulder and all - will also not have to carry so much of the load with Allen back in the lineup.
Raiders OC to face former prized weapon Adrian Peterson
It wasn't so long ago Adrian Peterson had his monster 2012 season, compiling 2097 yards to lead the Vikings into the playoffs. The man who dialed up the plays that had Peterson putting up those yards was Bill Musgrave who is now dialing up the plays in Oakland. Sunday Musgrave will watch his former workhorse back from the opposite sideline.
"Just a tremendous talent. Hard worker," Musgrave said of Peterson. "Very team oriented person Adrian is. It was a real blessing to have the opportunity to be associated with him."
What's most amazing about that 2012 season is the Vikings finished 10-6 with a berth in the playoffs despite Christian Ponder as their quarterback and not a lot of talent overall. Musgrave rode his workhorse back and was able to get more out of that team than most expected. He has a quarterback in Oakland who he can do a lot more with. And if anyone is familiar with Adrian Peterson and perhaps how to stop him (if that exists), it's Musgrave.
Conference rushing leaders face off
Peterson is once again leading the league in rushing with 758 yards already this season. On the other side of the field, coming into week 10, the Raiders boast the AFC leading rusher, Latavius Murray who has 630 yards this season. It's the NFC's best back vs the AFC's best. Statistically speaking, the Raiders have a better run defense than the Vikings. The Raiders' run defense is ranked 7th in the league, allowing under 97 yards per game, while the Vikings are 18th in the league allowing just under 112 yards per game.
Conversely, the Vikings run the ball a lot more than the Raiders do. While the Raiders run the ball an average of 23.5 times per game, the Vikings run the ball over 30 times per game. Though most teams tend not to run the ball against the Raiders much because yards are far easier to come by through the air.
Top draft class QB's showdown
There were four quarterbacks taken near the top of the 2014 draft. The last two of those four were Teddy Bridgewater (32) and Derek Carr (36). They have also proven thus far to be the best quarterbacks in the class ahead of the first two quarterbacks taken; Blake Bortles (3) and Johnny Manziel (22). And on Sunday, they will have their first regular season showdown in Oakland.
Opinions about these two young guns has shifted since they came in the league. Carr was given the start for the Raiders from day one, and though he had his struggles out the gate, he got out to a head start on Bridgewater. By week 4, Bridgewater was named starter and burst onto the scene, leading the Vikings to a win. And by the end of the season, the Vikings were 6-7 with him as the starter. While the Raiders began 0-10 and finished 3-13.
As of a couple weeks ago, however, Carr has raced past Bridgewater as the class of the 2014 draft at quarterback. Bridgewater still has more wins under his belt this season, but Carr has done considerably more to put the Raiders in a position to win games. Now fans of both teams get to see these two second-year stars on the same field.
Top rookie receivers square off
As if the two conference rushing leaders and two 2014 star draft QB's all facing off wasn't enough, these two teams also have the top two rookie wide receivers. Raiders fifth overall pick Amari Cooper is far and away the top rookie wide receiver in the NFL this season with 653 yards and 4 touchdowns. Next on the list is Vikings fifth round rookie Stefon Diggs who has 461 yards on the season. Diggs also has not near as many targets and catches as Cooper does this season and didn't receive significant playing time until week 4. It should be an interesting comparison.
Tony Bergstrom vs Linval Joseph
This match-up is enough to make all the blood drain out of Raiders' fans faces. Joseph is a contender for Defensive Player of the Year and the Raiders will face him without their top center, Rodney Hudson in the lineup. Bergstrom had never even played center until this season when the former third round compensatory pick at the guard position managed to crack the roster as a backup center.
This will be Bergstrom's second career start and his first at the center position. Facing the 6-4, 328-pound Joseph is a pretty scary thought. Bergstrom allowed 2 hurries in 16 snaps late in the game last week against the Steelers.