Sorry for the delay… it happens!
Ravens Rush vs. Vikings Defense: The Ravens can run the ball, or so I believe. But the Bengals managed to stop them and they’ve chosen not to run against other opponents. Put that against the Williams crew and the only rush defense that can rival the Ravens. Edge: Even
Ravens Pass vs. Vikings Defense: The loss of Jared Gaither might be hurt more than expected, especially with Jared Allen rushing the corner. The Vikings are talented but Joe Cool and the Ravens can win the match-ups if given time. Edge: Even
Vikings Rush vs. Ravens Defense: The Ravens gave up 100 yards to a single back for the first time in nearly 40 games last week. If there’s any back I fear being able to do that again, it’s probably the Vikings Adrian Peterson. But the Ravens can shut him down if they play up to their ability. Edge: Even
Vikings Pass vs. Ravens Defense: Brett Favre has been throwing the ball like a 35 year old recently (sorry, mandatory age joke taken care of). The Vikings still plan to keep the ball out of Favre’s hands as much as possible though. The Ravens D needs a good rush and a pick-me-up game. Edge: Even
Special Teams: The Ravens are still seeking a solid return man (perhaps Ladarius Webb will get more than a pair of returns this week). Ravens punter Sam Koch continues to make a bid for team MVP (like on most Ravens teams). The Vikings are solid all around. Ryan Longwell is a great veteran kicker. Young’n Percy Harvin is making a splash on returns. The Ravens must contain him. Edge: Even
Micellaneous: The Ravens have lost two straight (about the same time they lost three straight last year, eh?)… Joe Flacco is still Mr. Unshakable on the road… The Vikings have one of the best home field advantages in the league thanks to the dome… The Vikings are one of five unbeatens left in the league… The combined record the Vikings opponents is 7-17. Edge: Vikings (+1)
This is about as even as two teams are going to match-up in the NFL; they literally go strength-for-strength, player-for-player. A pair of nice defenses, great running games and a great quarterback match-up. In fact, I’m surprised there isn’t more talk about Flacco and Favre. C’mon, both F names, both undervalued coming out of college… right? Ok, stretch. But Flacco is emerging as one of the game’s best and Favre is trying to hold his value.
This is almost too close to call. I want to believe the Ravens will win this game (and they certainly can if they play to their strengths), but it’s hard to pick a team that has faded in the stretch for two straight games. The Ravens will play well, but it won’t be enough. The rebound will have to wait until after the bye. Vikings 23, Ravens 20.