Justin Jefferson Set To Return As Vikings Face The Raiders

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MINNESOTA (6-6) at LAS VEGAS (5-7)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EST, Fox

OPENING LINE: Vikings by 3, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Vikings 7-5; Raiders 6-6.

SERIES RECORD: Raiders lead 9-6.

LAST MEETING: Vikings won 34-14 on Sept. 22, 2019, in Minneapolis.

LAST WEEK: Both teams were off. Vikings lost to Bears 12-10 on Nov. 27; Raiders lost to Chiefs 31-17 on Nov. 26.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Vikings minus-8; Raiders minus-7.

VIKINGS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Justin Jefferson. The 2022 AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year is set to return after missing the past seven games because of a hamstring injury. The Vikings managed to win the first five of those. QB Joshua Dobbs will throw to Jefferson for the first time and likely see some immediate benefits with the attention the Raiders are sure to devote to him.

RAIDERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Aidan O’Connell. He goes into his final stretch to prove he should be the starting quarterback going forward. O’Connell has had moments where he could be the QB the Raiders want, but hasn’t been consistent. Maybe having a week off will help him reset and show the Raiders don’t need to look for his replacement in next year’s draft.

KEY MATCHUP: Dobbs vs. Raiders secondary. After sparking the Vikings to victories in his first two appearances, Dobbs has been responsible for six turnovers over the past two games. He rushed for 110 yards over his first two games with the Vikings and just 32 yards over the previous two. Dobbs goes against a Raiders secondary that has made significant changes with two players being waived, putting the onus on recently acquired Jack Jones and rookie Jakorian Bennett.

KEY INJURIES: Vikings CB Akayleb Evans (calf) missed the previous game, but was a full participant Wednesday in the team’s first practice after the bye week. … QB Kirk Cousins (Achilles tendon), RB Cam Akers (Achilles) and DL Dean Lowry (pectoral) are out for the season. … LB Jordan Hicks (leg) and OLB Marcus Davenport (ankle) remain on injured reserve. … Raiders DE Maxx Crosby (knee) and T Kolton Miller (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday. Crosby was doubtful two weeks ago against Kansas City, but played. Miller also started after missing two previous weeks. … CB Brandon Facyson (shin) was designated Wednesday to return from injured reserve, beginning his 21-day clock in which he will be activated or return to IR.

SERIES NOTES: The Vikings have won three of the past four meetings. … Minnesota outscored the Raiders a combined 64-28 the past two times they played each other. … This is their first meeting in Las Vegas, but the Raiders are 5-2 when they’ve been the home team.

STATS AND STUFF: The Vikings are 0-3 against the AFC West this season, losing to the Broncos, Chargers and Chiefs by a combined 12 points. … The Vikings under coach Kevin O’Connell have played 22 of 29 games with one-score margins. They were 11-0 last season and are 5-6 this season in games decided by eight or fewer points. In games decided by three points or fewer in 2023, the Vikings are just 1-3. … O’Connell would become the fastest coach in team history to 20 victories with a win. Dennis Green got there in 32 games from 1992-93. … The Vikings are one of two teams in the NFL with four players with at least three receiving TDs: Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, Alexander Mattison and Jefferson. … Hockenson leads all NFL TEs with 80 receptions. He’s second with 786 receiving yards. … Vikings OLB Danielle Hunter is tied for third in the NFL with 13½ sacks, one shy of matching his career high. … The Vikings defense has forced 18 fumbles, two more than any other team in the league. … The Raiders have had 56 accepted penalties go against them, fewest in the NFL. It’s also the second-lowest total in club history through 12 games. The 1961 team committed 43 infractions through the first dozen games. … DE Maxx Crosby is the seventh player, since tackles for loss became official in 1999, to reach at least 80 in his first five seasons. … RB Josh Jacobs is one of two backs with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards in each of his first five seasons since 2019. Derrick Henry, who has hit that mark the past six seasons, is the other one. Jacobs joins Marcus Allen as the only Raiders to accomplish that. … K Daniel Carlson faces his old team for the second time. He was drafted by the Vikings in the fifth round in 2018, but was cut was after just two games after missing three field goals against Green Bay. The Raiders then picked up Carlson, who then became one of the NFL’s top kickers.

FANTASY TIP: Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson leads all players at his position with 80 receptions and is second with 786 receiving yards. His five touchdown catches are only one off the lead for tight ends. Given the Raiders likely will be paying a lot of attention to Jefferson, that could open up some opportunities for Hockenson to put up big numbers.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – Associated Press)

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