Two of our other The Baltimore Wire writers have penned good previews of the coming Baltimore Ravens game with the Minnesota Vikings, so I refer you to them for greater analysis. But let me just weigh in with some quick stats, lists, and summary thoughts as I have been contributing weekly since the start of this new blog a month ago.
The Ravens have come a long way in just a couple of weeks. They have gone from the edge of seasonal extinction to the current #6 playoff spot as the second wildcard team. This is no time for a letdown. This is a game the Ravens should win – they are at home and the Vikings are winless on the road. As well, the next three games will be much more difficult.
According to the AP Pro32 Rankings, the Ravens are 14th and the Vikings 25th.
Here are the offensive and defensive statistical rankings (listing the NFL rank/yards) …
|Team||Off Pass/Yards||Off Rush/Yards||Def Pass/Yards||Def Rush/Yards|
|Ravens||19th / 228||30th / 81||12th / 229||6th / 100|
|Vikings||25th / 211||6th / 133||30th / 287||23rd / 121|
So the game pits the #6 rushing offense against the #6 rushing defense and the #30 rushing offense against the #30 rushing defense. You can’t make up stuff like this!
Big Ideas …
1. The Ravens have to stop Adrian Peterson – the premier running back in the sport right now. He is not at complete health and practicing regularly, though he will likely play; and the groin injury did not seem to affect him last week. No, can’t stop him, but the goal should be to contain him sufficiently.
2. The outdoor team from the south should take advantage of the indoor team from the north. This has not been a comfortable weather season for the Ravens, though everyone can be thankful this is not being played outside in Minnesota. The likely difficult conditions of cold, sleet and snowy weather at game time should give additional advantages to the Ravens.
3. The red zone offense needs to score touchdowns. Who would have believed you if you told them in September that the Ravens would win their 11th and 12th games of the season over the Jets and the Steelers when only scoring two touchdowns over eight quarters? Nine field goals made the difference, but this is not a sustainable trend. It would help if linemen could cease and desist with the false starts inside the 20!
4. The running game needs to show up. Have you heard this one before? Sooner or later it has to happen.
5. The pass rush needs to come out of hiding. Ben Roethlisberger never really had any intimate fellowship with the turf on Thanksgiving Day. Terrell Suggs has gone four weeks without a sack. Matt Cassel will fill in for Christian Ponder (concussion) and will not have a good day if he is harassed; but like any decent pro, if given some time, he can find receivers.
6. How many of the bruised and battered brigade will fight on Sunday? As always, the Steelers game was a battle and a very physical contest. There are guys who are on the edge. Will the ankle of Elvis Dumervil allow him to play? It sounds like it will be a game-time decision.
It would be great to have Dennis Pitta back … looks like it might happen, and this would help the red zone issues as stated above.
Jimmy Smith appears fine after the brutal helmet-to-helmet hit last week. Brandon Stokley appears able to go and to hopefully be a factor. Concerns continue for Lardarious Webb (abdomen), Chris Canty (shoulder) and Asa Jackson (thigh) … though all are probable.
7. If nothing else works, just let Justin Tucker kick the ball over and over. This has been an amazing season for one of the world’s good guys who likes eating turkey legs.
Summary – I feel better about this game than any since writing these previews. That may not, however, be a good thing for the Ravens.
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