Oakland Raiders are coming off a truly devastating loss to the Pittsburgh Ste..."/> Oakland Raiders are coming off a truly devastating loss to the Pittsburgh Ste..."/>

Oakland Raiders: Keys To Victory Over Minnesota Vikings

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Aug 22, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Christian Ponder (9) in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. The Minnesota Vikings beat the Oakland Raiders 20-12. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders are coming off a truly devastating loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game was right there within reach, but a defensive collapse with under a minute to play allowed Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown to race 57 yards to put his team in position to kick the game winning field goal. The loss dropped Oakland to 4-4 and could serve as the defining moment of the season.

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There are three teams at the top of the heap in New England, Cincinnati, and Denver, and a fourth team – Indianpolis? Houston? – with a record below .500 but guaranteed a playoff spot because somebody has to win that awful division. There are then a gaggle of teams at the bottom of the pile and are already virtually, out of playoff contention.

Then there come the group of teams Oakland finds themselves lumped in with – Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and the New York Jets – who are in a pitched battle for the AFC’s two wild card slots.

The loss to the Steelers last week hurt doubly because not only did the Raiders miss a clear opportunity to put themselves in the wild card driver’s seat with a 5-3 record, but the head to head tie breaker over the Jets and the Steelers, they also lost out on an opportunity to gain ground on AFC West leading Denver who lost to the Colts.

A win would have put Oakland two games behind their division rivals, and with one head to head game left, that’s a lead that wasn’t insurmountable.

But that’s unfortunately not how it all played out. The good news though, is that the Raiders have something of a favorable schedule the rest of the way – only two games against teams with winning records at this point – and are still in the thick of the playoff hunt in the AFC. They are going to need to absolutely ball out from this point on and get a little help from the three teams in front of them in the playoff race, but Oakland could very, very conceivably make the postseason dance.

But it’s going to take some wins. Will this team rebound from a pretty horrific loss to the Steelers in week nine? Will they use that game as a learning moment and added motivation to excel and play some of their best football in the second half of their season? Or will they let the demons from that game haunt them the rest of the way?

It’s a defining moment for this club as they march back toward relevancy. And we will begin to get the answers to some of those questions starting this week against a very good Minnesota Vikings team, who at 6-2 and riding a four game winning streak, share in their division lead and are in the playoff mix themselves.

It’s a game with huge implications for both teams. But only one can walk out of the stadium victorious. As good as the Vikings are, they’re not unbeatable. And this Raiders squad has the firepower to get the job done. What’s it going to take? Here are some keys to victory over this Minnesota team.

Next: Rediscover Their Form