As I had to do a lot of homework this past week, let’s hope the Baltimore Ravens have been doing their homework on the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings do not have a great offense, except for that one player we should all know: Adrian Peterson.
The Vikings are not coming to raid Baltimore by the air, but by the ground.
For the Ravens who are struggling to run the ball, Peterson has almost triple the yards of Ray Rice, double his yards per carry, and almost triple his touchdowns. Just to put it into perspective.
With an inconsistent run defense this season, despite being sixth in the league, the Ravens will need to keep Peterson in check somehow. The defensive line and the linebackers will be tested greatly on Sunday.
This also means Terrell Suggs needs to start causing pressure on the quarterback and the running back.
If the Vikings use Peterson as a key player in their entire offense as they should, play action should be used even without the run game established. So the defense may have to rely on the secondary to make big plays on passing plays. Most of the defense will have to move in for a moment to make sure they can contain Peterson if he runs.
With that said, Peterson is questionable for the game as of Friday the 6th. He is only questionable, so he could still play. If he can return from a season-ending injury as he did, I am sure this will be nothing in comparison.
But if Peterson does not play, the Ravens’ preparations for him should still prepare them for their other running back Toby Gerhart. Though he does not get as much playing time, he is not Peterson.
With what should be a strong focus on the running defense, the Ravens should be able to present a dangerous defense if they force Ponder or Cassel to throw the ball often … which is good, since Jimmy Smith fully participated in the last practice according to the Ravens after it seemed he was concussed. Lardarius Webb was limited in practice, but we can hope he will be able to play.
The Ravens need to take advantage of the Vikings’ injuries. Christian Ponder is out with a concussion, so Matt Cassel, someone the Ravens know, should be starting unless they give the job to the third-string quarterback.
Looking at the Vikings’ depth chart on NFL.com, almost every defensive first-string is injured in some way or another. Even if the questionable/probable players play, they will not be 100% healthy. The Ravens should be able to play quick ball against this banged up defense.
Joe Flacco has nearly 3000 yards passing. With the Viking’s overall defense near the bottom of the league, the Ravens should look to attack quick and often with the pass game. Rice needs to get active in the game through any possible way.
And I know everybody was waiting for this, according to the Ravens’ Twitter account, John Harbaugh said Dennis Pitta has a reasonable chance to return this Sunday. And the Ravens’ Twitter account also said Pitta is feeling good and hopes to make his debut this Sunday.
Pitta should make an immediate impact for the offense. He will add to the red-zone threat that the Ravens seem to be lacking. Especially in the Thanksgiving game, the Ravens saw Justin Tucker kick 5 field goals (tying Matt Stover’s record by the way). Though it is good that Tucker is reliable, the Ravens need to end the red-zone drives with touchdowns.
The few errant passes by Flacco that Dallas Clark has not been able to bring in, Pitta has proven to be able in the past. Rather than dropping passes on second and third downs, Pitta should help move the chains more often.
Let’s hope Flacco keeps up his passing equality among the top receivers, as well as getting the ball to Rice through the air. With such a damaged Viking defense, Flacco needs to cut through their defense from the beginning.
The Vikings are 3-8-1, so there is no reason to give them any hope. If Peterson does play, hopefully his injury will slow him down. If not, you may see the defense playing deep for a running back.
Stop the running back, and the rest of the Vikings’ offense should go down with him. Let’s hope.
Just like every game remaining in the season, this is a huge game. The Ravens simply need to win their remaining games and they are in the playoffs. Hopefully this game will act as momentum into some tough games following.
Topics: Baltimore Ravens