Two Class of 2014 quarterbacks collide when the Oakland Raiders (4-4) host the Minnesota Vikings (6-2) at O.Co Coliseum.
Derek Carr commands the hottest offense in football, despite the team's uneven defense. They've scored 106 points the last three weeks behind Carr's 11 touchdown tosses. Weapons like receiver Amari Cooper (quad) and running back Latavius Murray (concussion) will probably suit up, too.
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But the Vikings should offer Carr his greatest test yet. They're the only NFL team holding opponent to under 23 points per game. And they'll keep the ball away from the Raiders with a possession offense led by Adrian Peterson.
Here are three keys to the game for both the Vikings and Raiders:
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1. Give Adrian Peterson another hefty workload
Minnesota's winning formula is simple: get the ball to Adrian Peterson as much as possible. It has worked in six games so far, as Peterson has eclipsed 100 yards rushing in four of those six outings. The Vikings have only won one game this season when their All-Pro running back has handled fewer than 20 carries, and that was against the team with the worst record in the league -- the 1-7 Detroit Lions -- in Week 7. To beat a formidable Raiders team on Sunday, Peterson will have to carry the offensive load once again for the Vikings.
2. Disrupt Derek Carr's hot streak
Carr has quickly developed into one of the league's finest young quarterbacks. The second-year signal-caller has thrown 19 touchdown passes (tied for third-most in the NFL) and only four interceptions. Although the Vikings have a fairly stingy defense, they'll have a tough time taking away all of Carr's targets. Even without explosive rookie wideout Cooper, the Raiders still have a solid secondary receiver in Michael Crabtree, an emerging tight end in Clive Walford and a sneaky-good pass-catcher coming out of the backfield in fullback Marcel Reece.
3. Beef up protection for Teddy Bridgewater
The Vikings like to lean on Adrian Peterson, but they need some semblance of a passing attack in order to strike a balance on offense. They're only going to get that with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, and he was knocked out of last week's game with a concussion. Although his progress in concussion protocol this week leads us to believe he'll return to full strength before Sunday's game, the Vikings should still plan to boost the protection around Bridgewater. Leaving a tight end and running back in to pass protect is the move.
1. Don't expect Woodson to clean up after missed Peterson tackles
The Raiders asked a 39-year-old safety with one good arm to do their defensive dirty work last weekend. Unsurprisingly, they were gashed in the run game by DeAngelo Williams (27 carries, 170 yards, 2 TD). Peterson is an even greater threat; it'll take 11 swarming defenders, not one aging one, to help bring him down.
2. Give a lot of cushion to Stefon Diggs
Oakland dropped to 29th in total pass defense after last weekend's drubbing from Antonio Brown. Diggs, while perhaps not ready to spring a 284-yard day of his own, can still torch their defense. DJ Hayden and Co. might have to sacrifice short and intermediate routes at the expense of safer coverage because Diggs is a bonafide deep threat.
3. Make blocking life easier for reserve center Tony Bergstrom
Bergstrom will have enough on his plate if he needs to step in for injured star center Rodney Hudson (ankle). Expecting him to know Hudson's line calls and block Vikings star tackle Linval Joseph is too much to ask. He should get some help from left guard Gabe Jackson to pacify the NFC's reigning Defensive Player of the Week.