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Pick Six: Maxx Crosby's health, return of Justin Jefferson among top storylines for Week 14

1. "JJettas" is back

It's time for the Raiders secondary to buckle up their seatbelts and go on a ride when Justin Jefferson hits the field.

The 2022 AP Offensive Player of the Year will return to action this Sunday after missing the last seven games with a hamstring injury. Before his injury, Jefferson was on pace to post similar, if not better, statistics from last season – averaging over seven catches and 114 yards the first five games of the season. The Vikings were cautious with the star receiver's injury, as this will be his first game back despite being designated for return off injured reserve about a month ago.

"When you have an elite player, you want to see [him]. You want to watch him," Antonio Pierce said of their upcoming opponent. "He's only played in five games, and he's been out and now he's back and he's well-rested. Full go, he's not even on the injury report anymore. So, we're going to get the best No. 18.

"We expect the best from our players as well. Great challenge for our young corners, Jack Jones and Amik [Robertson] and Nate [Hobbs]. It's really good for those guys to really have a challenge this week, and [defensive coordinator] Pat [Graham] and I are going to put a gameplan together to limit the best receivers that we're going to see this week."

2. "If I have a heartbeat, I'm going to be out there with my brothers"

On Friday morning, Pierce noted that Maxx Crosbywill be "ready to roll" for Sunday's game.

In Week 12 before the bye, Crosby was ruled doubtful with a knee injury but still gutted it out against the Chiefs where he sacked Patrick Mahomes to bring the Condor's season total to 11.5.

The defensive end returned to practice on Friday in a limited role and has been ruled questionable.

"I'm feeling incredible," Crosby said on NFL Network. "It was probably one of the hardest things I've been through, and I've been through a lot of hard things in my life but that was definitely up there. It's just a blessing at the end of the day. I look for the positive in everything, and everything happens for a reason. I was able to fight through all the ups-and-downs of the week. ... But if I have a heartbeat, I'm going to be out there with my brothers and try to go out there and get a win."

Notably, Crosby is one sack away from reaching the career 50-sack mark, which would make him the only player in Raiders history to reach 50.0+ sacks in his first five NFL seasons.

3. The Vikings' QB1 situation

The Vikings quarterback situation has been in flux over the past few weeks following Kirk Cousins' season-ending injury. In response to Cousins going down, they traded for Josh Dobbs from the Arizona Cardinals.

Dobbs' first two games with the Vikings were a major success, picking up wins against the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints with five total touchdowns in that span. However, things have cooled off recently with two straight losses as Dobbs has thrown a combined five interceptions.

Despite recent struggles, Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell said they're going to continuing riding with Dobbs this Sunday. It will be interesting to see how the Silver and Black defense plan to limit him.

4. Football cleaner than the health department

The Las Vegas Raiders have undoubtedly been a disciplined team as of late.

In their last game, they didn't commit a single penalty – making it the first time in franchise history the Raiders have committed zero penalties and zero turnovers in a single game.

The Silver and Black have committed 56 total penalties for 488 yards in 2023, which is currently the fewest amount of penalties in the NFL. Additionally, it's the fewest penalties through the first 12 games of a single season in franchise history (since 1961).

The Vikings are also a fairly disciplined football team. Their 4.83 committed penalties per game average is second in the league only to the Raiders. Whoever plays the cleanest football Sunday might have the edge in the overall results.

5. Bye bye bye week

With their Week 7 win over the Houston Texans in 2022, the Raiders broke a five-year slide of losing the first game after their bye week.

This year marks the latest in the season the Raiders had their bye week since 2016.

"It was everything, reflection, self scout, preparation, rest, getting questions answered, answering questions," Pierce said Wednesday. "Really good for me personally and really good for our coaches, our staff, support staff, our players. When they got back here Monday, it was like first day of school, real chatty.

"It was good. Good energy today here in meetings so far and walkthrough. I think that will continue throughout the week in practice. Probably one of the best times for us. You wish it wasn't that late, but then the way everything worked out this year, it was a benefit for the Raiders."

The Minnesota Vikings are also coming off a bye week. They're 2-3 in games following their bye week over their last five seasons .

6. What happened last time

The Raiders lead the all-time series between themselves and the Vikings with a 10-6 overall record. Their one playoff victory against Minnesota was in Super Bowl XI, the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

However, the last time the Silver and Black defeated the Vikings was in 2011, as the opposition picked up decisive victories in 2015 and 2019. This will be the Vikings' first regular season game played inside Allegiant Stadium.

As the Raiders prepare for their first 2022 preseason game at Allegiant Stadium, take a look back at their past matchups against the Minnesota Vikings through the years.

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