The Vikings wanted to improve the play along their offensive line and get their running game on track. The selection of center Garrett Bradbury at No. 18 overall was an important piece of that effort. Now, the Vikings boast the NFL's leading rusher (Dalvin Cook) and the No. 4 rushing offense in terms of yards per carry (5.7).
The Raiders also wanted to add some pop to their rushing attack. The selection of running back Josh Jacobs was a big part of their effort to do so. Now, the Raiders enter Week 2 ranked No. 8 in yards per carry (4.8) thanks in large part to Jacobs' 99 yards on just 12 carries a week ago. He also has two touchdowns through his first two games.
It's still early, but the initial returns are good for both the Vikings and Raiders with these two 1st-round picks. While they obviously won't play against each other on Sunday, this week's Vikings-Raiders matchup is a showcase of these two young offensive talents. Both will be key factors for their offenses, too, as Bradbury and the Vikings will look to keep running the ball well and Bradbury will look to keep improving as a pass protector. Jacobs, meanwhile, is banged up but if he plays he will also be leaned on to move the ball on the ground and help neutralize the strength of the Vikings defense – its pass rush.
Regardless of how Sunday's game goes down, both teams will continue to feel optimistic about these two young players and the impact they can have going forward.
Stefanski anticipates stingier Raiders pass defense than last week
The Oakland Raiders enter Week 3 ranked dead last in passing yards allowed (685). The Vikings enter Week 3 ranked 31st in passing yards (320). But don't think that discrepancy has Viking Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski assuming this is a "get right" game for his quarterback and passing game.
Oakland's poor standing in pass defense rankings should be viewed more critically because last week they ran into last year's Most Valuable Player. Patrick Mahomes was in MVP form, throwing for 443 yards and four touchdowns on 30 completions. He had a pair of 100-yard receivers, spread those 30 completions to seven different players and had six of those seven haul in multiple receptions.
"I got a healthy respect for Oakland's pass defense," Stefanski reassured reporters earlier this week. "I think they have really good players, I think the scheme is sound. I know Kansas City got some plays out there, but watching the tape there were some unique plays made by that quarterback (Patrick Mahomes), so I think we'll get a very stingy pass defense on Sunday."
Kickoff for Sunday's game is a noon CT, but you may want to tune in at 10:30 when the Vikings and Raiders have to declare who is inactive because both teams have significant names on their injury report. The Vikings have already ruled out Mackensie Alexander and they placed the "questionable" designation (indicating a 50/50 chance of playing) on linebackers Anthony Barr and Ben Gedeon, guard Pat Elflein and cornerback Mike Hughes.
Oakland's list is just as long and significant. Already declared out are receiver and return specialist Dwayne Harris (ankle) and guard/tackle Gabe Jackson (knee). Listed as questionable are starting right tackle Trent Brown (knee), linebacker Vontaze Burfict (shoulder/knee), defensive tackles Corey Liuget (knee) and PJ Hall (illness), guard/tackle Denzelle Goode (knee) and defensive back Lamarcus Joyner (groin). Staring running back Josh Jacobs and top receiver Tyrell Williams are both dealing with hip injuries but are both expected to play.
Does it hurt a QB's ability to be a leader when he makes mistakes that prove costly?
It's quite the opposite, in my view. In sports, making mistakes and losing goes with the territory. Adversity is coming. Everyone knows that, everyone anticipates it. And it's rare that an individual or a team gets down on itself or on teammates when adversity rears its head. What is paid attention even more than whether adversity comes or not is how one responds to that adversity. So while someone can say Kirk Cousins' interception in Green Bay last week could cast him in a poor light to his teammates, another person could wisely point out that now Cousins has a great opportunity because showing up and playing well on Sunday in the face of that adversity will do more to build trust and leadership than the mistake from last week did to erode trust and leadership.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster for the 2019 season.
"100 percent. He's been a good leader, a very, very hard worker. Very much a team oriented player. He had some great effort plays last week, so 100 percent." – Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Head coaches rarely speak in absolute terms and they avoid singling out individuals when speaking publicly, which is why that quote is notable. Zimmer was asked what kind of turnaround he's since from Everson Griffen since his return to the team following a brief absence last season to address personal matters.
Stat of the Week – 80 sacks
Since opening U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings totaled 80 sacks in the building, the most in home games in the NFL since 2016 when the stadium opened.
Stat of the Week II – 80 sacks
Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter have combined for 80 sacks since Hunter was drafted in 2015, the most among all duos in the NFL in that span.
View images of past games between the Raiders and the Vikings.
National Television: FOX
Play-by-play: Dick Stockton
Analyst: Mark Schlereth
Sideline: Jen Hale
Local Radio: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130
Play-by-play: Paul Allen
Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline: Greg Coleman and Ben Leber
Pre-game show: Mike Mussman – 10:00 a.m. CT