- Kickoff: 3:05 p.m. Sunday
- Where: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas
- TV: Fox
- Radio: KFAN-FM 100.3; Sirius/XM 380 (Vikings), 225 (Raiders)
- Line: Vikings by 3
The Vikings return from their bye with the same quarterback (Joshua Dobbs) throwing to a sorely-missed receiver (Justin Jefferson) as they try to end a two-game losing streak, avoid going winless against the AFC West and keep themselves in playoff position after both the Rams and Packers won during the Vikings' bye week to match them at 6-6. On Sunday, they'll play their first regular-season game in Las Vegas, in front of a crowd expected to be filled with Vikings fans, and face a Raiders team that's also coming off its bye week with interim coach Antonio Pierce.
Here's a look at what to expect between the Vikings and Raiders on Sunday.
THE BIGGEST STORY LINE
Jefferson returns: The Vikings will have Justin Jefferson on the field for the first time since Oct. 8, when he strained his right hamstring against the Chiefs. The earliest return date the Vikings had deemed realistic for Jefferson was the Bears game on Nov. 27, but with the bye a week later, the team decided to give him another week to make sure he was fully ready to go. He was a full participant in practice this week; he will play his first game with Dobbs on Sunday, and it stands to reason he will want to put on a show with Davante Adams, a receiver he has long admired, on the other sideline.
VIKINGS OFFENSE VS. RAIDERS DEFENSE
First chance for Dobbs-Jefferson combo: The Vikings chose to stick with Dobbs at quarterback this week, which means that by the end of the day Sunday, he could have thrown more passes to Jefferson than any quarterback other than Kirk Cousins. Sean Mannion — who was 6-for-11 targeting Jefferson in the one game he's played without Cousins — is the only other QB to throw Jefferson a NFL pass. Dobbs will get his first taste of how defenses play the Vikings differently with Jefferson on the field; Jefferson, meanwhile, will play with a mobile quarterback for the first time in his career. If Dobbs can get Jefferson the ball on time, while extending plays and making the Raiders pay for keeping safeties deep in coverage, the two could add a new element to the Vikings offense.
Crosby is key to Raiders pass rush: Las Vegas has blitzed opposing quarterbacks just 20% of the time this season, the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL, and ranks last in the league in pressures. Pro Bowl defensive end Maxx Crosby has 11½ of the team's 28 sacks, needing just one the rest of the season to match his career high. The Raiders spend most of their time in a 4-2-5 nickel package, where Crosby will line up at left end across from right tackle Brian O'Neill. With Jefferson back, the Vikings might be able to use tight end T.J. Hockenson for chip help on Crosby more often; if they can control him as he plays through a knee injury, they would have a good chance to buy time for Dobbs.
VIKINGS DEFENSE VS. RAIDERS OFFENSE
Adams presents test for Vikings secondary: Adams is in his second year with the Raiders, meaning most of the Vikings' young cornerbacks haven't faced the receiver who ranks second in Packers history in catches, making 669 over eight seasons in Green Bay. There's no Aaron Rodgers throwing Adams the ball in Las Vegas, but Adams' ability to separate from corners with crisp routes still makes him one of the tougher tests the Vikings have faced this season.
Vikings try to beat another young QB in O'Connell: The Vikings' first victory of the season came when Brian Flores' defense harassed Carolina rookie Bryce Young in a five-sack game. Their largest victory of the year was a 14-point win at Green Bay where the Vikings sacked Jordan Love four times and picked him off once. Now, in Raiders rookie Aidan O'Connell, the Vikings will face their third first-year starter. The Purdue product is starting with Jimmy Garoppolo out for the season; O'Connell has thrown six interceptions in five games, while being sacked on 6.8% of his dropbacks. The Vikings could have chances to make it a long day for the rookie.
Questionable: G Ed Ingram (hip), S Theo Jackson (illness)
Out: T Kolton Miller (shoulder)
Questionable: Crosby (knee), CB Brandon Facyson (shin), LB Kana'i Mauga (knee)
Jefferson's return comes against a Raiders team with a secondary that could be susceptible to big plays, especially if 5-foot-8 corner Amik Robertson is matched up against him. The Vikings should be able to give O'Connell trouble, and the Raiders have struggled to run Josh Jacobs efficiently this year. Turnovers were the main reason the Vikings lost to Denver and Chicago before the bye; if they can eliminate giveaways against Las Vegas, they should be able to end just the second losing streak of the Kevin O'Connell era. This is the kind of game a team that's serious about a playoff trip should win. Prediction: Vikings 27, Raiders 19