Minnesota Vikings (6-2 SU, 7-1 ATS) vs. Oakland Raiders (4-4 SU, 5-3 ATS)
NFL Week 10
Date/Time: Sunday, November 15, 2015 at 4:05PM EST
Where: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIN +3/OAK -3
Over/Under Total: 43.5
The Minnesota Vikings meet the Oakland Raiders in a key matchup on Sunday afternoon. The Raiders enter the second-half of the season with some promise at .500, having shown measurable progress this season. On Sunday, they came up short, 38-35, in a painful loss to the Steelers on the road. They try to get back on the winning track at home against the Vikes. Minnesota has somewhat quietly forged a fantastic 6-2 start to the season. Since a puzzling opening-week hammering by the 49ers, theyve won 6 of 7 games, while covering the spread each and every week. On Sunday, they won an overtime 21-18 game against the Rams at home.
On Sunday, Minnesota showed some more of their characteristic grit in beating the Rams in OT. QB Teddy Bridgewater went down with a concussion, appearing to be unconscious for a spell. Hes reportedly passed concussion tests and is expected to play this Sunday. While some would look at what exists on paper and figure his production could easily be replaced, Bridgewaters merit is not something that can be fully gleaned by looking at stats. Hes a young quarterback who has a lot of presence. His steadfast und unflappable disposition rubs off on the rest of the team. He doesnt make a ton of mistakes and is just very deliberate and professional. Shaun Hill behind center would be a major step back for this offense, but in being upgraded t probable on Wednesday, it looks like Bridgewater is a go.
The Minnesota offense is pretty lukewarm, ranking 23rd with an average of 21 points per game. Aerially, theyre one of the last-ranked teams in the league, averaging less than 189 yards per game. The one thing giving their offense some teeth is the resurgence of Adrian Peterson. The scary thing is that he hasnt even appeared to kick into full-gear yet and hes still the leading rusher in the league. Against the Rams, he ran for 125 yards. In the last 3 games, he has 326 yards on the ground. Through the air, Bridgewater has been making nice progress with rookie Stefon Diggs, who leads the team in receiving, while WR Mike Wallace and WR Kyle Rudolph also chip in with some production.
Bolstering the Vikings efforts this season is a defense that is both stout and clutch. When watching the Vikings, they always come up with the good play. They are 2nd in the league in allowing a scant 17.5 points per game. Their secondary has been playing very well, holding opposing quarterbacks to manageable amounts of damage through the air. There is a nice mix of veterans and youngsters who are making the Minnesota D one of the fastest-rising units in the league.
As bettors, we need to exercise caution with teams like the Vikings. Their first trip to the bay area was total disaster against the Niners and well see how they fare in a tough road game this week. But for a 6-2 team, there are no stars on this team other than Peterson. Its a team that is strengthened by their unity, as they are really a true team. Its hard to identify exactly why theyve been so successful this season. Sure, they can run the ball and play defense, which alone can take a team far. But theres also an indefinable quality at play with the Vikings, a certain air or vibe that makes them better than you would think.
This is a key game for the Raiders, as well. After falling to 4-4 on Sunday in Pittsburgh, they would love to get on the winning track this week at home against a tough visiting foe. It was a tough loss, as the Raiders took the lead with just over a minute left, when Derek Carr connected with Michael Crabtree for a 38-yard touchdown, but the Steelers staged a late drive with another big pass play to Antonio Brown, who torched this Oakland secondary for 284 yards. And a FG with two seconds left sealed it.
Make no mistakethe Raiders are pretty dangerous. Chief among the reasons is a blossoming offense that is getting good and improved performances from young players. Carr is certainly improved, with rookie Amari Cooper becoming a star in this offense. He and Crabtree have given this offense a great 1-2 punch at receiver. Latavius Murray has run for nearly 300 yards in the last three games. In terms of scoring points, this is the 7th-ranked offense in the league. Center Rodney Hudson was listed as questionable at press time, as his loss could be costly.
Some of the things that concern some about the Raiders overall viability came to the surface Sunday at Heinz Field. They are the last-ranked defense against the run, with some running backs having field days against this group. Backup Steelers back DeAngelo Williams ran for 170 yards on Sunday. In half of their games, this defense has given up at least 29 points. At the same time, theyre a group that can make plays and come up with big individual performances. Khalil Mack has been a handful on one end, while veteran Charles Woodson (questionable) has picked off 5 balls.
This is not an easy spot for either team. Crossing the country in a game against a team out of your conference has a way of not bringing out the best of a team. At the same time, there are some matchup concerns that could plague Oakland in this game and Peterson could have his best game of the season. I envision a competitive game, with Minnesota taking over late to seal the cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Minnesota Vikings plus 3 points.
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