Photo credit: dailynorseman.com
By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
After two AFC West divisional games to start the season at home, the Raiders get set for their first road test of the year as they prepare to face the NFC North’s Minnesota Vikings in Week 3. The Silver and Black are 9-5 all time against the Purple People Eaters, with each team winning two games apiece over their last four matchups.
In their last meeting, the Vikings took down the Raiders 30-14 on Nov. 15, 2015 at the RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland.
Kickoff is set for 10:00 a.m. PDT this Sunday at U.S. Bank Field, as the Raiders begin a 49-day stretch away from Oakland and the first of four games against the NFC North this season.
The Raiders (1-1) lost 28-10 to the visiting Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2, after jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes shredded Oakland’s defense in the second quarter, throwing 278 of his 443 yards and four touchdowns in the period that put the game out of reach.
With the win, Mahomes improved to 3-0 against Oakland and has now thrown for 10 touchdowns to just one interception in those three games.
History was made in the game for Oakland as quarterback Derek Carr surpassed Hall of Fame quarterback Ken Stabler for most passing yards in franchise history, as Carr threw for 198 yards in the game and now stands at 19,196 threw his first 80 games.
Wide receiver Tyrell Williams caught his second touchdown of the year, while tight end Darren Waller led the Raiders in receptions again for the second-straight week as he caught six balls for 63 yards.
Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Waller joined Todd Christensen (1986) and Brandon Myers (2012) as the only tight ends in team history to record at least 50 yards receiving in the first two games of the season.
Defensively, the Raiders didn’t muster much of a pass rush against the Chiefs but Benson Mayowa had a day to remember, as he recorded 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Mayowa became the first Raiders player to record at least one sack and one forced fumble in each of the first two games of the season since sacks became an official statistic in 1982, while also becoming just the seventh defensive player league wide to do so since 2010 according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
After defeating the Atlanta Falcons 28-12 in Week 1 at home, the Vikings (1-1) lost on the road in Green Bay, 21-16 in Week 2 at Lambeau Field.
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook rushed for a career-high 154 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries against the Packers. It was the second-straight game that the third-year pro from Florida State rushed for over 100 yards.
Through the first two games of the season, Cook is the NFL’s leading rusher with 265 yards.
Vikings signal-caller Kirk Cousins can play like he’s a top-10 NFL quarterback at times, making tough throws look routine to stud wideouts Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
Then there are times where Cousins will throw those head-scratching passes late in a game that’ll get intercepted, sealing a loss that makes you wonder, if he’s even worth the $84 million fully guaranteed the Vikings are paying him?
Minnesota has Super Bowl aspirations and the pressure is on Cousins to guide them to Miami (the site of Super Bowl LIV), this season.
After throwing just 10 times in the season opener against the Falcons, Cousins finished 14-of-32 with one touchdown and two interceptions against the Packers.
With a chance to throw a potential game-winning score for Minnesota late in the fourth quarter, Cousins was intercepted by Green Bay cornerback Kevin King in the end zone.
Didn’t I mention a few spaces before about those head-scratching throws from Cousins that’ll cost you a game?
But the ultimate strength of the Vikings is its defense, which has been among the NFL’s best during head coach Mike Zimmer’s six seasons in Minnesota. The Vikings can generate a strong pass rush from its edge rushers in Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, which will give its strong secondary led by strong safety Harrison Smith and cornerback Xavier Rhodes opportunities to create turnovers.
Carr and the offense have to be on high alert for a tough Vikings team and one of the toughest venues in the NFL, U.S. Bank Stadium this Sunday.
Following Sunday’s game, the Raiders will travel to Indianapolis to battle the Colts in Week 4 before flying to London to take on the Chicago Bears in a “home game” in Week 5.
The Vikings will begin a two-game road trip when they take on the Bears in Week 4 followed by a trip to New York for a date with the Giants in Week 5.