Halfway through the 2015 season, the Minnesota Vikings and the Oakland Raiders are two of the most surprising teams in the NFL. The Vikings and Raiders will meet each other on Sunday as both teams will look to improve their chances to play in the postseason.
Last week, Minnesota (6-2) edged the St. Louis Rams 21-18 in overtime as running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown. Kicker Blair Walsh connected on the game-winning 40-yard field goal for the Vikings.
Oakland (4-4) will return home to O.co Coliseum following last week's disappointing 38-35 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kicker Chris Boswell hit an 18-yard field goal with two seconds left to clinch the victory for the Steelers.
Oakland and Minnesota haven't played each other since the 2011 season when the Raiders defeated the Vikings 27-21. Oakland leads the all-time series between the two teams 10-4, which includes the Raiders' victory in Super Bowl XI.
Minnesota at Oakland
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET (Sunday)
Spread: Oakland -3
Three Things to Watch
1. The health of Teddy Bridgewater
Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was limited in practice on Wednesday as he went through the concussion protocol after he was knocked out of last Sunday’s game against the Rams by cornerback Lamarcus Joyner. On Thursday, Bridgewater was listed as a full practice participant on the team's injury report. Officially he's considered Questionable for today's game, as he must be clear the league's concussion protocol before he can play.
In eight games this season, Bridgewater has thrown for 1,670 yards, six touchdowns against six interceptions. Minnesota hasn’t defeated an AFC opponent on the road since the 2012 season, so the team needs Bridgewater in order to end that losing streak.
2. Latavius Murray
Bridgewater isn’t the only player whose health is in question this week because of a concussion. Oakland’s Latavius Murray also was knocked out of the game last week against the Steelers.
Murray was in uniform but he did not participate in practice on Wednesday. However, he did practice on both Thursday and Friday. He is listed as Probable, which is a pretty good indication that not only has cleared the concussion protocol, but that he will be out there against the Vikings.
Murray has rushed for 630 yards, which puts him sixth in the NFL. Oakland offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said on Thursday that the team will use a rotation of Taiwan Jones, Roy Helu, Marcel Reese and Jamize Olawale if Murray cannot play or ends up being limited on Sunday.
3. Raiders' secondary vs. Vikings' receiver Stefon Diggs
In their last game against the Steelers, the Raiders' defense gave up 402 passing yards. Most of the damage came courtesy of Pittsburgh All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, who racked up 284 yards on 17 catches.
Oakland will face another playmaking wideout this week as rookie Stefon Diggs leads the Vikings in receptions (28) and yards (441). Diggs has already recorded two 100-yard receiving games this season.
Raiders cornerback David Amerson will likely be the man the team will expect to slow down Diggs. Getting cornerback T.J. Carrie back from injury should also help the Raiders in coverage.
Minnesota’s defense has been one of the best in the league this season, coming into this game ranking seventh in yards allowed. The Vikings also are second in scoring defense (17.5 ppg).
The biggest question in this game is can the Vikings’ offense score enough points to keep up with the Raiders' offense. Minnesota offense ranks 31st in the league in yards and 23rd in points per game (21.0 ppg).
While Oakland may not be able to score close to 40 points on Minnesota, the Raiders should be able to score at least 30 provided Murray is healthy and can take pressure off of quarterback Derek Carr. Much like the Jets game, the Raiders should be able to get off to an early start and that will most likely be too much for the Vikings to overcome.
Prediction: Raiders 31, Vikings 20
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.