Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Sneak peek: With Raiders invading, Vikings ship has too many holes to plug

Posted by: under Vikings, AFC, Packers, Leslie Frazier, Jared Allen, Leslie Frazier, Tarvaris Jackson Updated: November 15, 2011 - 10:38 PM

A snapshot look at the Vikings as they prepare for next Sunday’s game at Mall of America Field against the Raiders.

PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder needs to show marked improvement this week. No, no, no, we’re not advocating a full-fledged panicked exit from the Ponder bandwagon. The kid still has the requisite talent and composure to be a difference-maker for years to come. But it is worth pointing out that Ponder has only completed 50.5 percent of his passes this season and has a quarterback rating (69.8) that registers below mocked signal callers likes Arizona’s Kevin Kolb (77.8), Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson (74.8) and Denver’s long-ago benched veteran Kyle Orton (75.7). Look, Ponder needs a lot of help around him – up front and in the receiving corps. But also remember he is facing his own steep learning curve. That was fully evident Monday at Lambeau Field as the Packers blitzed him early and often and rattled him into a night in which he went 16-for-34 for 190 yards with an interception. Ponder was 7-for-17 for 96 yards after halftime.
 
MOST PRESSING QUESTION
Which team has the advantage in turnaround time, the Vikings or Raiders?
 
The Raiders played on Thursday of last week, winning 24-17 in San Diego and then getting nine full days to rest and recover before their trip to Minneapolis. The Vikings? They get a shortened week to address a multitude of errors that surfaced during Monday night’s embarrassing 45-7 loss in Green Bay. But who knows? Maybe the quick turnaround will be a blessing. After all, the Vikings had 15 days between games after beating Carolina 24-21 in Week 8. And yet they returned after their bye week to deliver their biggest stinker of the season.
 
KEEP AN EYE ON …
Cullen Loeffler’s shoulder. The veteran long snapper suffered a rotator cuff injury Monday night. No big deal; he’s just a long snapper, right? Well, Loeffler has played in 126 consecutive games for the Vikings, including playoffs. You’d have to go back to the 2003 regular season finale to find a Vikings punt or field goal attempt that didn’t have Loeffler snapping. On the current roster, Jared Allen is the second-best long snapper. But the Vikings certainly would not ask him to take on that role if Loeffler’s injury were serious. They’re instead forced to scour the open market.
 
SCOUTING THE RAIDERS
In Oakland, it all starts with the running game. Through the first four games, Darren McFadden ran like a Pro Bowl star, accumulating 468 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The last three weeks, with McFadden sidelined and nursing a sprained foot, Michael Bush has sprung to life. Bush had 111 yards from scrimmage in Week 7, 129 yards in Week 9 then blew up for 242 total yards in last week’s win over San Diego. As a team, the Raiders have the NFL’s fourth best rushing offense (156.2 yards per game). They also now have quarterback Carson Palmer knocking the rust off and sparking a big to win the AFC West.
 
TRUE OR FALSE
The Vikings can win Sunday: True.
 
Amazingly, even after seeing Monday night’s 45-7 horror show in Green Bay, the oddsmakers still only have the Vikings pegged as one-point underdogs against the Raiders. Oakland, for what it’s worth, has already won road games this season at Denver, Houston and San Diego. So now we’ll learn a whole lot about the character that coach Leslie Frazier thinks he has on this team. So far, the Vikings have not handled their small samples of success well. They’ve followed each of their wins this season with wildly lopsided losses. But at least after the first blowout loss of the season – a 39-10 faceplant in Chicago – the Vikings came back and fought Green Bay to the wire in Week 7. They’ll need a similar effort Sunday.

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Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 71 FINAL
Utah 88
New York 129 FINAL
Sacramento 135
Minnesota 97 FINAL
Golden State 110
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
UAB 58 FINAL
North Carolina 89
IUPUI 55 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 58 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 45 FINAL
UNLV 79
SD Christian 50 FINAL
San Diego St 72
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
SMU 45 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 96
UCF 64 FINAL
Houston 50
BYU 62 FINAL
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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