If there are still doubters as to whether this Vikings team is any good, a strong showing these three games is critical.
After back-to-back heartbreaking losses, the Ravens are hungry. That's bad news for the Vikings who have coasted to a 5-0 record. The Ravens need the win more than the Vikings do and that could prove to be costly for the purple and gold.
Ray Lewis brings in the fourth ranked rushing defense in the NFL. They're only giving up a measly 3.0 yards per carry. Peterson hasn't been over the 100-yard mark since Week One, but don't let that scare you. It's not from a lack of production as much as a lack of touches for the third-year back.
The Ravens pass defense hasn't been very good this season compared to others. They are currently ranked 26th in the NFL. At times, they've looked downright awful. But if you're the Vikings, plan on the Ravens bringing in their A-game into the Metrodome. They won't simply lay on that beautiful turf for you.
Ed Reed will be watching Favre closely. You can almost be sure he will get his pick. He's the best free safety in the NFL and by the time he's done, could be one of the best ever. Favre needs to watch for this guy and NEVER throw in his direction.
The Ravens' offense has changed keys this season handing them over to Joe "Cool" Flacco. Joe has been one of the bigger surprises this season, throwing for over 1,200 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions.
With the Vikings' inability to shut down the passing game, Flacco may run wild especially for the Vikings' well-documented poor tight end coverage.
The running game has been led by Ray Rice who himself has been a huge surprise taking over the starting job in Baltimore. Both running backs are averaging over 5.0 yards per carry. They won't back down on their rushing attack. After all, you don't want to get into passing situations with Jared Allen breathing down your neck.
The Vikings defense has been decent this season. A lot of yardage has been given up in garbage time in the fourth quarter of a couple games.
The defensive line is headed by Pro Bowlers all over. With massive tackle Jared Gaither doubtful for Sunday's game, Jared Allen could have a field day.
The pass defense is still trying to man up to the 10th ranked rush defense of the Vikings. The Vikings have been notoriously bad in he passing game, but since the arrival of Jared Allen, quarterbacks don't have nearly as much time to get the ball off.
The offense has been steady the last couple of weeks. Brett Favre has shown that he has the arm needed to win games, but the bread and butter of the offense still revolves around Adrian Peterson. Expect the Vikings to keep their guard up and be looking for Ray Lewis at all times.
The Ravens gave up their first 100-yard rushed in nearly three years to Cedric Benson last week. Peterson always has the ability to break one and could hand the Ravens back-to-back 100-yard rushers on defense.
One thing to watch for this Sunday will be the return of the best center in Vikings history, Matt Birk, who signed with the Ravens in the offseason. In case you already didn't know, No. 77 in the picture above is the big man himself. That undoubted gives the Ravens an advantage as far as philosophy goes.
Was Matt Birk's career really finished? This writer doesn't think so, but current Vikings center John Sullivan has shown improvement in the last two weeks.
When you break everything down, the Vikings are a better looking team. The Ravens have an advantage at the linebacker and receiver positions, but the Vikings have the advantage in the other areas.
So to answer my question in the headline, I think the Vikings look better in purple. They won't back down no matter how intimidating Ray Lewis and company may be.
Prediction: Vikings 31, Ravens 20
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