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The Raiders go into Minnesota this Sunday with a lead in the AFC West, and they know if they just take care of business every week it’s their division to lose.
“That’s all you can ask for is that you are in control, that it’s not about somebody doing something for you,” Oakland head coach Hue Jackson told the Bay Area News Group’s Steve Corkran. “It’s about taking care of your own business.”
And the Raiders’ business this week is the 2-7 Vikings.
While Minnesota has had its troubles – shifting from veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb to rookie Christian Ponder – and losing top cornerback Antoine Winfield, the Vikings still have perhaps the NFL’s best running back in Adrian Peterson.
Peterson has rushed for 846 yards – fifth best in the NFL -- and 10 TDs and is averaging 4.7 yards per carry.
Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan knows that in order to beat Minnesota, his team will have to stop the run – something it hasn’t always been successful doing. The Raiders rank 25th in the NFL against the run.
As Corkran noted, the Raiders in their five victories have held opposing teams to an average of 69.6 yards rushing. In their four losses, the Raiders have allowed an average of 209.3 yards on the ground.
Bresnahan told Corkran this week he’s preaching discipline in assignments this week, to stop Peterson from breaking off big gains. It’s the same message he delivered earlier this season before the Raiders held Houston Texans back Arian Foster in check.
“Attention to detail, discipline and, more so than ever before with these guys, you have to gang tackle, because this is an exceptional running back,” he told Corkran.
The Raiders go into Sunday’s game banged up. Running back Darren McFadden and receiver Jacoby Ford are unlikely to play; kicker Sebastian Janikowski and defensive tackle Richard Seymour – who both missed all of Thursday’s practice – are expected to play.
Ponder will make his fourth start for the Vikings since supplanting McNabb. He’s 1-2 in those starts and has completed 53 percent of his throws for 744 yards, three TDs and three interceptions.
Ponder will face a Raiders secondary that will feature Lito Sheppard – who played for the Vikings last season – at cornerback. Sheppard has become a starter because of injuries to Chimdi Chekwa and DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chris Johnson’s infection.
Safety Michael Huff, who missed the last game against the Chargers, is expected to return, recovered from a sprained right ankle.
“I’ll definitely be ready this week,” he told reporters.
Oddsmakers have made the Raiders one-point favorites.