One week removed from not only Kirk Cousins’ worst game as a Viking, but arguably the worst game of his career. Cousins threw a heart-breaking interception in the red-zone on first and goal in the fourth quarter and the Vikings never sniffed the end zone again after that. This week the Vikings will look to get back on track with the 1-1 Oakland Raiders coming to town for their first game in Minnesota since 2011. What do the Vikings need to do to ensure they head to Chicago in week 4 above .500 once again?
Three Keys to Victory
- Regain Cousins’ confidence: Oakland’s defense looks to be improved from the 2018 season. They play hard and fast but they are still far from dangerous. This is a good game for #8 to regain his confidence after an extremely poor outing in week 2. Oakland has struggled to produce a consistent pass rush for years so Cousins should have much more time to find his receivers this week than he did in week 2. It’s best he regain his confidence now before we head to Chicago in week 4 against one of the best (if not thee best) defenses in the league.
- Make the Raiders one-dimensional on offense: Rookie running back Josh Jacobs has been nothing but spectacular in his first two NFL games. Like Dalvin Cook, he’s one of the league leaders in yards after contact. The primary focus of the Vikings defense will be to slow down Josh Jacobs. If they can do that, Derek Carr will have to beat them with his arm…which is not something I trust him to do on the road against a Mike Zimmer-led defense. Derek Carr’s career road record is 13-27.
- STOP COMMITTING PENALTIES: In 2018, Mike Zimmer’s team was penalized just 92 times, which was the second lowest total of any team in the league. Through the first two weeks of the 2019 season Zimmer’s team has been penalized 20 times already which is amongst the tops in the NFL. It doesn’t matter who you play. If you give your opponent second and third chance opportunities on drives you will find a way to lose.
Oakland Raiders Offensive & Defensive Rankings
- Total Offense: 22nd
- Passing: 22nd
- Rushing: 12th
- Offensive Line: 12th (3 Sacks & 5 QB Hits Allowed)
- Total Defense: 27th (405 YPG)
- Pass Defense: LAST (342 YPG)
- Rush Defense: 5th (63 YPG)
- Pass Rush Efficiency: 17th
Oakland Raiders Offense
Oakland Raiders Defense
Scouting the Opponent with Jimmy Durkin of “The Athletic: Bay Area“
*Jimmy is the Managing Editor for “The Athletic” in the Bay Area. You can follow him and his work on Twitter at —> @Jimmy_Durkin.
- What does it mean to have Richie Incognito back and how do you think he’ll impact this game after not seeing an NFL field in over a year? “Incognito’s hope is that he’ll bring a nasty side to the Raiders offensive line and he’s been in great shape since joining the Raiders and expects to fit in seamlessly. The Raiders offensive line — which used two backup guards the first two games with right guard Gabe Jackson out with a knee injury — was great in Week 1 against the Broncos, not allowing Derek Carr to get touched. But they were shakier against the Chiefs, with fill-in left guard Jordan Devey struggling. We all know how talented and experienced the Vikings defensive line is, so Incognito should certainly help. But if right tackle Trent Brown misses the game — he hasn’t practiced yet this week with a sore knee — Incognito’s addition certainly won’t fully off-set that loss.”
- After sitting at the bottom of the league in offensive rushing average in 2018, the Vikings rank amongst the top in football through two games. Who is the bigger threat to the Raiders defense? The duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs or Dalvin Cook? “Obviously Dalvin Cook is coming off a monster game and leads the league in rushing, so he’s the simple answer, especially with Mike Zimmer’s often stated goal of wanting to run the ball. But it shouldn’t take much tape from the Raiders game against the Chiefs for Zimmer to figure out it would be smarter for Kirk Cousins to air it out to Thielen and Diggs. The Raiders are fifth in the NFL in rushing defense and 30th in pass defense. I know which way I’d lean if I were the Vikings.”
- It’s expected that the Vikings defense is going to make it a priority to stop rookie phenom running back Josh Jacobs. What other skill position player in this game needs to have a big game to ease the pressure off of Josh Jacobs? “Darren Waller. The tight end is the Raiders’ most explosive pass catcher and leads the team in receptions through two games. He has 13 catches for 133 yards. Tyrell Williams has caught touchdowns in each of the first two games, though he is dealing with a hip pointer. He’s a good weapon for Carr too, but Waller is the player most likely to deliver a game-breaking play in the passing game.”
- Which matchup are you most looking forward to watching in this game? “Zimmer vs. himself. Since Zimmer fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo late last season, Cousins has averaged 24.8 pass attempts per game in five games. That, to me, is a recipe for keeping this game close. As Jon Gruden warned this week, “Cousins is paid to throw the ball, and he’s capable of ripping it.” Will Zimmer let him? If so, I want to see if the Raiders can bounce back from last week’s miscommunication-filled second quarter against the Chiefs and show they can stop Cousins, Diggs, Thielen and Co.”
- Give me one Raiders prediction, one Vikings prediction, and your final score prediction.
- Raiders Prediction: “(Darren) Waller will catch his first touchdown of the year — and first as a Raider.”
- Vikings Prediction: “(Kirk) Cousins will have more passing yards in this one game than the 328 he has in the first two games of the season.”
- Final Score Prediction: “Vikings-20 Raiders-14”
- Raiders QB Derek Carr has just one career start against the Vikings. He threw for 302 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and posted a 83.7 QB Rating in 30-14 loss at home in 2015.
- Vikings QB Kirk Cousins also has just one career start against the Raiders. He threw for 365 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and posted a 150.7 QB Rating in a win at home.
- The Vikings are 5-10 against the Raiders all-time. 3-4 at home in Minnesota.
- Kirk Cousins needs 182 passing yards to pass Joe Kapp on the Vikings all-time passing list.
- Adam Thielen needs 1 touchdown to pass Percy Harvin for 13th on the Vikings all-time touchdown receptions list.
- Kyle Rudolph needs 5 receptions to pass Sammy White for 7th on the Vikings all-time receptions list.
*For all the latest Vikings news and updates follow me on Twitter at @Purple_Post. #SKOL