4 Vikings storylines to watch in Week 14 vs. Raiders

The Minnesota Vikings are set to take on the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon in a must-win game for both teams.

The Vikings currently sit at 6-6 and are the sixth seed in the NFC. They control their own destiny and will have a playoff spot just by winning out. They also can potentially win the NFC North with some help from the Detroit Lions. The Lions currently sit at 9-3 but have a very difficult schedule down the stretch.

The Raiders on the other hand need some help. They are 5-7 on the season and are 2-2 under interim head coach Antonio Pierce. If they get the win this week and next week over the Los Angeles Chargers, they could be within spitting distance of a wild card spot, a position they are currently two games out of heading into week 14.

When the Vikings take on the Raiders this Sunday, these storylines will be worth keeping your eye on.

Managing editor Tyler Forness: How will Justin Jefferson impact Josh Dobbs?

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Having the best wide receiver in the entire league is going to help your offense succeed. It’s even more paramount when you aren’t starting your top quarterback. With Josh Dobbs at the helm, the offense has performed admirably but hasn’t quite gotten into a real flow. With the return of Jefferson, the way defenses will attack the Vikings is going to change and that could improve the offense immediately. Can Jefferson turn things around for the Vikings?

Columnist Judd Zulgad: Vikings defense vs. Aidan O'Connell

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

O’Connell, a fourth-round pick last spring from Purdue, took over as the starter last month and has thrown four touchdowns with five interceptions in five games and six starts. He threw for 248 yards and a touchdown with a 101.6 passer rating in the Raiders’ 31-17 loss to Kansas City on Nov. 26. Coming off the bye, O’Connell will face the challenge of going against a Brian Flores-led defense that is difficult for any quarterback to decipher and is filled with different looks. This could be a long day for O’Connell.

Columnist Saivion Mixson: NFC wild card race

David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

While the Vikings players took a well-deserved rest on their bye week, the Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks decided to make the NFC playoff race much more intriguing. 

With the Cowboys taking firm control of the first wild-card spot (and contending for the NFC East), the Vikings, Packers, Rams and Seahawks are now in a dogfight for two wild-card spots as they all hold the same record at 6-6. Not to mention the NFC South’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints at 5-7 apiece.

According to the New York Times’ playoff simulator, the Vikings have a 44% chance to make the playoffs. With just a win against the Raiders, that probability boosts to 53%. 

After two disappointing losses, the margin for error for Minnesota has dwindled significantly. They’ve essentially opened the wild card race to anyone willing to take it. Let’s hope that they can finish the job on this home stretch.

Columnist Chris Spooner: Can the Vikings stop the slide?

David Berding/Getty Images
David Berding/Getty Images

As it stands right now, the Minnesota Vikings are a playoff team. Which is sort of astounding considering how the season started. However, the recent skid threatens to derail what has become a Cinderella story season. Right now, Minnesota is still holding on to the 6th spot in the NFC. A loss to the Raiders will surely knock the Vikings – at least temporarily – out of the playoff picture. Every game from here on out is big. The march to the playoffs starts in earnest right now.

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Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire