Both teams will be out to prove that their Week 1 win wasn’t a fluke when the Oakland Raiders visit the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3. The action gets started at 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 22 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Fans in local markets will be able to watch the game on Fox.
If we check the Week 3 NFL odds, the Vikings are 9-point favorites at home. That line has increased slightly after Minnesota opened the week favored by 7.5 points. The over/under for the game is set at 43 points.
Minnesota had one of the most impressive wins of any NFL team in Week 1. They dominated the Falcons 28-12 despite Kirk Cousins only throwing the ball 10 times. However, that performance didn’t carry over into Week 2. The Vikings found themselves down 21-0 to the Packers early in the second quarter. Cousins and company were able to get back in the game, but four turnovers became too much to overcome in a 21-16 loss.
The Vikings now head into Week 3 part of the giant mess of 1-1 teams in the NFL. After coming back home this week, the Vikings will hit the road for three of their next four games, starting with a rivalry game against the Bears next week. That means Minnesota can’t afford to have a letdown this week against the Raiders.
Oakland, meanwhile, shocked many by dominating the Broncos in a Week 1 win despite all of the Antonio Brown related distractions swirling around the team. The Raiders turned even more heads last week when they jumped out to a 10-0 lead against the Chiefs. Of course, that lead was short-lived, as the Raiders gave up 28 points in the second quarter and were held scoreless the rest of the game.
Emotions were no doubt high the past two weeks with the Raiders hosting their two biggest rivals in Oakland for the last time. But now we’ll see what Jon Gruden’s team is made of in the weeks ahead. Starting in Week 3, the Raiders play four of their next five games on the road, including three games against teams that made the playoffs. If Oakland has any playoff potential in 2019, we’re likely to find out in the next few weeks.
To be honest, I’m not a believer in either of these teams. The Raiders, for instance, seem like they might be vulnerable to getting blown out just about every week. However, I’m not sure Minnesota is the kind of team to blow them out, despite how they handled the Falcons in Week 1. The Vikings should be able to win, but I’m not comfortable laying down more than a touchdown. I’ll play it safe and take the Raiders and the points.
The Vikings looked great in Week 1 when they took the ball out of Cousins’ hands. But they faltered last week when he had to throw the ball. Admittedly, the upside is high when the Vikings throw the ball because they have Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. But we know that Cousins is prone to mistakes and turnovers, and that’s what worries me in this game.
The Oakland defense has been surprisingly strong against the run this season. The Broncos and Chiefs are both teams I figured would have success on the ground, but both struggled to establish their running game. Even when the Chiefs had a sizable lead in the second half, they didn’t do much on the ground. If the Raiders can focus on slowing down Dalvin Cook this week, the Vikings might have no choice but to rely on Cousins throwing the ball, which can be an adventure.
On the other side of the ball, Oakland rookie running back has been the team’s most productive player through two games. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they had to abandon the run in the second half last week. But Jacobs is averaging over five yards per carry and proving that he can be a workhorse back. Derek Carr has looked sharp this year when teams have to respect Oakland’s running game and he gets a little more time in the pocket. If the Raiders are able to establish Jacobs, they’ll not only run the clock and shorten the game, but they’ll also give Carr a chance to put points on the board.
Perhaps more importantly, the Minnesota defense was shredded on the ground last week against Green Bay. To be fair, they held the Falcons in check in Week 1, but perhaps Atlanta is just a bad rushing team. If the Vikings don’t do a better job of containing the run this week, they’re going to struggle to put away the Raiders and cover the spread.
Honestly, I hate leaning toward the Raiders, especially with an early kickoff time. But Oakland has shown some genuine improvement from last season. I also hesitate a little to trust the Vikings given how unreliable Cousins can be from week to week. With the spread over a touchdown, the safer pick is with Oakland and the points.