Vikings 24, Raiders 17, Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com
Kirk Cousins’ gruesome red-zone interception in last Sunday’s loss at Green Bay, the worst throw of his worst game as a Viking, wasn’t the most troubling part of his performance. Cousins got a chance to make amends for his blunder with plenty of time left, but he threw another would-be interception that was dropped, then badly overthrew Adam Thielen to cap a crushing three-and-out. He was on tilt during the fourth quarter of a division game at Lambeau Field. The Vikings can only hope he bounces back better this week.
The matchup is certainly favorable to do so. This Raiders defense is playing hard, yet the pass rush remains undermanned. The offense gets Richie Incognito back but could be without Trent Brown. In a matchup between two starting running backs who keep creating yards after contact on carry after carrying, Dalvin Cook is the one more likely to be asked to salt away the game late.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is now 5-26 in his career against teams with winning records, and his allergy to prime-time games has been well-established. But on the flip side, this is where Cousins and the Vikings are at their best: at home against a non-winning team on a basic Sunday afternoon.
With that in mind, they have the support of the majority of our experts against the Oakland Raiders.
“The Vikes are 5-1 straight-up and 4-1-1 against the spread in Sunday afternoon home games with Cousins under center, and they crushed a solid Atlanta Falcons team under those circumstances in Week 1,” Brad Gagnon said. “Cousins loves to bully bad teams, and the Raiders certainly aren’t yet a good team. This’ll be a blowout.”
The Vikings hardly needed Cousins to hammer Atlanta in Week 1, and Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook is off to a special start. He should have a chance to do damage against a defense that struggled to slow Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman in Week 1.
The Raiders were outscored 28-0 in the final three quarters of a Week 2 home game against the Chiefs, and they could be in worse shape in a hostile environment Sunday.
The Vikings won their opener and almost pulled off a comeback victory last week thanks in large part to Dalvin Cook and their defense. One would think this situation, at home against the Raiders, gives Kirk Cousins a chance to join the list of reasons Minnesota is still a playoff contender. Oakland through two weeks is giving up an NFL-worst 341 passing yards per game. These are the kinds of games in which the QB traditionally plays well.
When will the Vikings come alive on offense? Kirk Cousins has been bad so far. But I think this is a perfect game to get him untracked. The Raiders struggled on defense last week against the Chiefs and I look for more of that here. Vikings take it.
If Kirk Cousins wants to get back in Vikings fans’ good graces, he should have a grand opportunity to do so back at home against a team that’s still catching its breath from chasing the Chiefs. And Derek Carr against Minnesota’s defense? Yikes.
This season already has a win-their-home-games-lose-their-road-games vibe for the Vikings.
The Raiders have played better than most people were expecting, but I can’t see them winning on the road in Minnesota.
Vikings 24, Raiders 21.4, Vikings Pregame Win Percentage: 58.4 %, FOX Sports.com
FoxSports.com utilizes its football simulation to predict the outcome for this week’s games. Each game is simulated 501 times to generate an average score and winning percentage. The predictions use the most up-to-date stats, rosters and depth charts.
Vikings Pregame Win Percentage: 74 %, FiveThirtyEight
FiveThirtyEight’s 2018 NFL forecast uses an Elo-based model to calculate each team’s chances of winning each game of the season.