The Oakland Raiders are set to take on the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday in a game that’s winnable and necessary to have — here are a few keys to victory.
For the Oakland Raiders, the best way to wash the taste of the debacle of their game against division rival Kansas City out of their collective mouths is to get a win. A win in convincing fashion would be best — but hey, a win would be a win regardless.
In Week 3, Oakland’s schedule takes them to the wilds of Minnesota for a date with a Vikings team that’s something of an oddity — an oddity in that, among other things, they’re paying franchise quarterback money to a quarterback they’d apparently rather not have throw the ball.
Of course, if you’ve seen Kirk Cousins play lately, you’d understand why. The Vikings though, aren’t without an impressive array of weapons at their disposal.
If Cousins can regain the form that led the Vikings to shell out the kind of money they’re currently paying him, based on what we saw Patrick Mahomes do to this Raiders defense last week, it could be another long day — or at least, a long second quarter.
The Raiders have the toughest schedule in the NFL this season. Not to mention the toughest travel schedule — by far — of any team in the league.
Their tilt in Minnesota is the start of a road trip that will next take them to Indianapolis, then England for a “home” game against Khalil Mack and the Bears.
Their Raiders won’t be playing in the cozy confines of Oakland again until week seven when they host Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Suffice it to say, this is a critical stretch of the season. If they can pass through this gauntlet and remain on their feet, they may give themselves a puncher’s chance at having a decent season.
If they fall flat on their faces as they pass through this trial by fire, it could make last season look like a cakewalk.
There’s no question that the first five games of the season are a baptism by fire for this Raiders squad — as if they haven’t had enough of that with the Antonio Brown saga. Head coach Jon Gruden says it will be a test of the team’s mental toughness. And it certainly will be.
But if the Raiders are going to give themselves any shot whatsoever at making a playoff run, they’re going to need a lot more than just mental toughness.
They are going to need physical toughness and they are going to need to play sound, fundamental football. Or, to put it in Gruden’s parlance, they’re “gonna need to get after some people’s asses.”
And that starts this Sunday in Minnesota.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at a few keys to victory over the Vikings.