Raiders at Vikings
Sunday, 10 a.m.</p>
KPIX (Ch. 5), KSFO (560 AM)
1. If you peruse the NFL individual statistical leaders, you’ll find exactly three Raiders in the top 10 of any category. Linebacker Thomas Howard is tied for fifth in the league with four interceptions; Tim Dwight’s lone kick return for 30 yards puts him at sixth in return average (scintillating!); and Shane Lechler is averaging 49.9 yards per punt, good for third in the league. The two-time Pro Bowl punter is a big reason the Raiders haven’t been blown out more this season, but if he punts nine times again, as he did in Week 10 against Chicago, it means the offense isn’t doing its job.
2. Adrian Peterson’s absence due to a tear of the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee means the Vikings will be without their — and the NFL’s — top rusher. But the guy taking his place is no slouch; Chester Taylor rushed for 1,216 yards last year as the starter. That means the Raiders’ 29th-ranked rush defense cannot take a day off.
3. In a game where the 30th- and 31st-best passing attacks meet, can Daunte Culpepper reward Lane Kiffin for giving him back the starting job? Can he burn the Vikings as he did Miami in Week 4? Just a mediocre day through the air would be an improvement.
GERARD WARREN VS. TARVARIS JACKSON
Warren: Listed as probable, his physical presence would be a boost to a struggling run defense.
Jackson: QB (featuring a whopping 50.6 rating) is back after concussion kept him out of Week 10.
JUSTIN FARGAS VS. E.J. HENDERSON
Fargas: RB’s 81-yard effort last week was hard-earned, considering Raiders can’t pass. He’s running strong.
Henderson: Linebacker is tied for fifth in the league with 78 tackles. Cannot leave unblocked.
NNAMDI ASOMUGHA VS. BOBBY WADE
Asomugha: He’s questionable for this one; his absence last week probably allowed the Bears’ winning TD.
Wade: Vikes’ leading receiver has just 313 yards. That tells you how weak the passing has been.
Lane Kiffin has seen the Raiders lose close ones time and time again. While the defense might be giving up the winning scores, the offense, much like last year, isn’t holding up its end of the bargain.
Brad Childress’ team is one of the best at stopping the run and will likely have a strong running game even with Peterson out. But both passing and pass defense have been abysmal for the Vikings.
THE EXAMINER PREDICTS …
The way this season has unfolded, it doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict that whatever happens during the game, the Raiders will probably lose in the final quarter. Justin Fargas will rush decently — but Chester Taylor will fare better.
VIKINGS 13, RAIDERS 12