The road ahead for the Las Vegas Raiders is a tough one, this after winning only five of the first 12 games they have played in the 2023 regular season. Las Vegas has looked strong at times, but for the most part, they have played inconsistent football, and with five games left in the season, it could be another year on the outside looking in at the AFC Playoffs.
In Week 14, the Raiders will play host to the Minnesota Vikings inside Allegiant Stadium, and they must take care of business if they hope to keep their season alive. The Raiders have the talent to beat Minnesota, but it will take a total team effort, and they must win these key matchups against this NFC North foe.
Raiders vs Vikings 2023 Week 14: Key matchups to watch
1. Davante Adams vs Byron Murphy Jr.
Davante Adams is no stranger to battling it out against NFC North teams, as he played his entire career with the Green Bay Packers before coming to Las Vegas. On Sunday, Adams will look to dominate his former divisional rivals once more, and will likely draw a matchup against Vikings star cornerback, Byron Murphy Jr.
This is a matchup that could make-or-break the game, and Aidan O'Connell needs to make sure he gets the ball into his playmakers hands early and often. Murphy is a solid player, and can cover in both zone and man, but Adams may be too much of a matchup problem for him in this one.
2. Raiders offensive line vs Danielle Hunter
The Raiders will be without Kolton Miller on Sunday, so you can expect the Vikings to dial up a mean pass rush against Las Vegas. One player the Raiders need to key on is Danielle Hunter, Minnesota's talented outside linebacker who can be a disruptive force against the run and the pass.
Las Vegas has had their issues along the offensive line all season long, and this Vikings defensive front is one of the best in football. If Hunter is allowed to roam and make plays all game long, O'Connell and the rest of this Raiders offense could sputter in a big way.
3. Antonio Pierce vs Kevin O'Connell
This is game No. 5 for interim head coach Antonio Pierce, so it is time to start looking at him as a seasoned vet at the position now. The Raiders have started strong under Pierce in games, but as we saw against Kansas City, Pierce needs to be better at in-game adjustments, and winning the chess match against opposing coaches.
Kevin O'Connell led the Vikings to a 13-win season a year ago, and the team is still very much alive in the NFC Playoff race in 2023 despite losing Kirk Cousins for the season. In the end, this game is going to be decided by which head coach pushes the right buttons at the right time, and comes away with the victory.