Week 3 Pick: Oakland Raiders vs. Minnesota Vikings
Oakland Raiders (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS)
NFL Week 3
Date/Time: Sunday, September 22, 2019 at 1PM EDT
Where: US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Point Spread: OAK +8/MIN -8 (Bovada)
Over/Under Total: 42.5
The Oakland Raiders come to US Bank Stadium on Sunday to take on the Minnesota Vikings. After big wins in week one, both teams came to earth some in week two. The Vikings couldn’t get it done at Lambeau on Sunday, losing badly to the Packers, 21-16, in a game that wasn’t even that close. Kirk Cousins had a rough day, and while the defense tightened up late, they were exploited early. They look to rally against a Raiders team that looked like a contender through a game-and-change. But after beating Denver on MNF and taking a 10-0 lead over the Chiefs last Sunday, they started looking like the Raiders we know, as the Chiefs cruised to a 28-10 win. They now will look to rebound in what is a tough road spot.
Who Can Get the Run-Game Going?
The Raiders did a good job of stopping the run on Sunday, although that is not the Chiefs’ forte. With Mahomes putting up 443 yards, they didn’t need to run. Well, it is the Vikings’ bread, and butter and the Raiders are likely to get exploited in spots. Still, the Raiders run-defense looks improved through two weeks. After Cousins threw only ten times in week one, he threw 32 passes on Sunday, only completing 14. But through two weeks, Dalvin Cook has been big. With 154 yards on Sunday, including a 75-yarder, he looks awesome through two games. With rookie Alexander Mattison adding a little variety, the Vikings’ run-game looks alive this season.
With 99 yards on just 12 carries on Sunday, Joshua Jacobs looks to have given the Raiders some answers at running back. In week one, he ran for two TDs on 85 yards. There hasn’t been anything that special about the Minnesota run-defense to suggest he can’t make those kinds of things happen again this week. Aaron Jones ran for 116 yards last week against the Vikes, and they haven’t looked that great since the 2017 season in that regard. I see both teams doing well on the ground this week with the Raiders may surprise some with what they’re able to do.
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Not too long ago, the Vikings played a lot of defense and had a semblance of an aerial attack. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs were thriving receivers, with Kyle Rudolph a productive tight end. With ten pass-attempts in week one and a cruddy stat-line in week two, Cousins is struggling. Over the second half of last season and into this year, he has not gelled with this aerial attack. There have been issues with protection up-front, but something else just seems wrong. A costly late-quarter pick on Sunday illustrated that. When it appeared the Vikings were on the rise, their defense was well-rounded—stiff against the run and the pass, while also making a lot of plays along the way. They still have juice up-front with Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, and Linval Joseph, but the play in the middle and the secondary has been inconsistent as of late. So while this is a tough spot for the Raiders, this isn’t 2017. And with some life in the Oakland offense, this proposition is hardly as bleak as it once was.
But even in this offense, Cousins has shown he can be prolific in the right spots. Granted, a lot of defenses were made to look suspect by defending MVP Mahomes, but the Oakland secondary is pretty suspect. Even when Denver had success on offense, it was mostly aerial, as Flacco threw for 268 yards. And against KC, Lamarcus Joyner, Daryl Worley, Gareon Conley, Karl Joseph, and others were left grasping for air. They won’t see that type of aerial hi-jinx this week, but this is a spot where Cousins can hit his stride with his different weapons.
Can Oakland Offense Deliver in This Spot?
It’s nice that Jacobs has shown himself to be a back with potential. Still, with Antonio Brown having jumped ship if leaves the Oakland offense looking a bit thin in artillery. With everyone siding with the Raiders throughout the whole Brown ordeal, it was still a huge loss personnel-wise. Carr has become a pretty accurate thrower and is over 70% completions again this season. And Tyrell Williams looks pumped up as a feature-receiver, while Darren Waller could fulfill his promise as a key contributor. Rookie Hunter Renfrow is interesting, as well. But after scoring 24 in their season-opener, the offense produced nothing in the last three-quarters of that game. That wasn’t a good development for this side of the ball. Against a defense that can play well at its top range, how many points can one righteously expect Oakland to deliver in Minneapolis on Sunday?
Lay the Points on the Favorite
The Vikes didn’t inspire much confidence at Lambeau on Sunday, but I see this being more in their wheelhouse, at home in a tough spot to play for a team with a lot of players who never played in this region. Dalvin Cook is looking real good through two weeks, and if he continues his good results, it will open the passing game for the Vikings, an area where they are overdue to strike, and I see it happening here. I’m going to lay the number on the Vikings at home on Sunday.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Minnesota Vikings minus 8 points.