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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Oct 25, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders strong safety T.J. Carrie (38) returns a punt as San Diego Chargers running back Danny Woodhead (39) defends during the third quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

With A Full Crew, The Secondary Needs To Step It Up

The Oakland defense is getting a huge boost this week with the return of safety Nate Allen and cornerback Travis Carrie. It will give the Raiders their most effective secondary as Allen’s return will allow Carrie – Oakland’s top corner – to move back to his natural position and bolster the pass defense.

While Carrie was effective in the safety spot and did some good things, the Raiders need him on the corner in the worst way possible. And they’ll need to have him shadow Stefon Diggs who is emerging as Minnesota’s top receiver. That leaves D.J. Hayden to cover Mike Wallace of course, which presents a whole host of challenges on its own. But there is some sort of disconnect between Teddy Bridgewater and Wallace, which has seen him get fewer targets – which will benefit Hayden and the Raiders.

But DC Ken Norton has been experimenting with his defense and has been playing six defensive backs with some regularity. Safety Taylor Mays – in the absence of linebacker Neiron Ball – played a hybrid safety/backer role and shadowed Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller last week, making a handful of very nice plays and limiting the tight end to just 32 yards on three receptions. Mays could – and probably will be – be used in the same role to match up with Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph.

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For the first time since the opening week game against Cincinnati, the Raiders have their full crew in the secondary. While this unit has been getting beat up with some regularity this season, and are one of the worst in terms of pass defense in the league, not having Allen and playing Carrie out of position couldn’t have helped.

But against the NFL’s thirtieth ranked passing offense, we will finally get to see what this unit is capable of. We will finally get to see if they can make some plays and improve on that bottom of the NFL ranking. If the Raiders are going to make the postseason, they will need their pass defense to improve by leaps and bounds. And that starts this week.

Next: Get Out To A Fast Start