Minnesota Vikings @ Oakland Raiders: Preview, Keys to Victory and Prediction

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Aug 22, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Gerald Hodges (50) tackles Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) in the first quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

An impressive home victory against the St. Louis Rams combined with the Green Bay Packers falling to the Carolina Panthers last Sunday has the Minnesota Vikings now tied atop the NFC North division with Green Bay at 6-2.

It’s been awhile since the Vikings held the lead in the division this far into the season. In fact, I think the last time was…is that Brett Favre’s music playing?

The Vikings will look to maintain their division lead this Sunday when they travel to the Bay Area to take on an unfamiliar foe in the 4-4 Oakland Raiders, a team the Vikings haven’t played since 2011. Moreover, this is the first time the Vikings will play at the Oakland Coliseum since 2003.

The 2015 version of the Raiders isn’t the same as in years past. Second-year quarterback Derek Carr has been playing like a seasoned vet, and he has the Raiders offense ranking near the top in the NFL, especially in passing. Minnesota’s defense might just be facing their toughest test of the season. Against the Raiders. I know, it’s weird for me too.

Leading up to the game, several key injuries will be worth monitoring on both sides. Notable players from both sides listed as out or doubtful include Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (ribs) and Raiders center Rodney Hudson (ankle). Additionally, listed questionable for the Vikings are quarterback Teddy Bridgwater (concussion) and linebacker Anthony Barr (hand).

One short note addressed towards Vikings fans out there before I get started: Don’t underestimate the Raiders and move on to Packer week too early. As I’ve already mentioned, these are NOT the same ol’ Raiders from the last few seasons. This team is legit.

Next: Vikings @ Raiders: Game Info