Updated December 10, 2023 - 11:14 am
The well-rested Raiders (5-7) will host the first of two games in a five-day period when the Vikings (6-6) visit Allegiant Stadium on Sunday. The Raiders hope to keep their slim playoff hopes alive with back-to-back games against fellow middle-of-the-pack teams. It’s the first of five games to close the season that will serve as a final audition for interim coach Antonio Pierce and rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell.
■ Who: Raiders vs. Vikings
■ When: 1:05 p.m. Sunday
■ Where: Allegiant Stadium
■ TV: KVVU-5 (Kevin Kugler, play-by-play; Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin, analysts)
■ Radio: KRLV-AM (920), KOMP-FM (92.3) (Jason Horowitz, play-by-play; Lincoln Kennedy, analyst)
■ Line: Vikings -2½; total 40½
The Raiders dominated the series early, winning seven of the first nine in a stretch that included a Super Bowl victory in 1977, but the Vikings have won three of the past four and trail the series 10-6.
Adam Thielen caught a touchdown pass and ran for a score as the Vikings opened a 21-0 lead en route to a 34-14 win Sept. 22, 2019, in Minneapolis. Tight end Darren Waller had 13 catches for 134 yards for the Raiders.
1. Vikings star wide receiver Justin Jefferson will catch at least eight passes in his first game in more than two months as he returns from injured reserve.
2. Jack Jones will have his first interception as a Raider in his second game with the organization after he was cut by the Patriots.
3. Rookie tight end Michael Mayer will exceed his season high of 75 receiving yards for the Raiders.
Matchups to watch
1. Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson vs. Raiders secondary. Yes, it will be a group effort. Marcus Peters was released after the loss to the Chiefs, so there are snaps up for grabs for a competitive group. Brandon Facyson could be back in the mix. Jones is going to be asked to take on an expanded role. Nate Hobbs and Amik Robertson welcome these challenges.
2. Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter vs. Raiders right tackles Jermaine Eluemunor and Thayer Munford. Hunter will move all over, but prefers to line up on the left edge of the defense. It’s possible Eluemunor and Munford get reps there, particularly with the health status of left tackle Kolton Miller in question. They will need to be up to the task against one of the NFL’s best.
3. Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores vs. Raiders offensive coordinator Bo Hardegree. Flores is exceptional at what he does, and now there is tape available to study what Hardegree likes to do after four games of calling plays. It will be fascinating to see how Flores approaches the game plan.
When the Vikings have the ball
Justin Jefferson is one of the league’s best receivers, and his return adds a completely different dimension to this offense. The Vikings can run the ball with Alexander Mattison and Ty Chandler, but Jefferson is the player who will cause defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to lose sleep. There must be an awareness of where he is on every play. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs is a fun story, but there’s a reason he hasn’t stuck on a roster. His accuracy and ball placement aren’t elite, and that has started to show. But the Raiders must be aware of his play-making ability. He’s far more dangerous outside the pocket.
When the Raiders have the ball
Offensive coordinator Bo Hardegree is still looking for consistency. His unit will put together a couple of solid drives with rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell and then disappear for a quarter. The Raiders have shown a renewed commitment to the run game under Hardegree. Josh Jacobs has run for at least 98 yards in three of the four games under the new regime after not reaching that mark in the first eight weeks. They will need to keep that going to keep the Vikings’ pass rush off balance.
Vikings: QUESTIONABLE: G Ed Ingram (hip), DB Theo Jackson illness). FULL: CB Akayleb Evans (calf), WR Justin Jefferson (hamstring), RB Kene Nwangwu (concussion), CB NaJee Thompson (knee), DT Khyiris Tonga (knee).
Raiders: OUT: OT Kolton Miller (shoulder). QUESTIONABLE: DE Maxx Crosby (knee), DB Brandon Facyson (shin), ILB Kana’i Miller (knee). FULL: K Daniel Carlson (illness), DT John Jenkins (NIR-rest), DE Malcolm Koonce (ankle).
The Raiders need to defeat the Vikings and then the Chargers on “Thursday Night Football” to stay relevant in the AFC playoff picture. Both teams are beatable.
Raiders 20, Vikings 18
Adam Hill Las Vegas Review-Journal