For the second consecutive week, the Baltimore Ravens are facing a team from the NFC North Division. This Sunday, the Ravens take on the Minnesota Vikings (4-2), at U.S. Bank Stadium, in Minneapolis. The Ravens are looking to turn their fortunes around, especially on offense. Last week, the offense performed dismally, scoring no touchdowns. In fact, Baltimore relied on two special teams touchdowns, to get the game into overtime. Now sitting at 3-3, the Baltimore Ravens need a convincing victory, to right ship. Sunday’s game against the division-leading Vikings will be difficult. but not impossible to win. For the Ravens to come out victorious, they need to improve in three key areas. The offensive line, wide receivers, and run defense, all need to step up.
Offensive Line Needs to Solidify
Last week, I identified the offensive line as one of the weak points in the Ravens offense. The offensive line, aside from its performance against the Raiders, has been a disappointment. Yes, the offensive line is banged up, missing three players for the year. However, just because the offensive line is missing Marshal Yanda and company, doesn’t mean they should be this bad. Too many times, the offensive line failed to provide quarterback Joe Flacco adequate time to find a receiver, and throw the ball. When the offensive line plays well, so does Joe Flacco. In Oakland, the offensive line kept Flacco upright all game. This resulted in Flacco playing his best football all season. He finished the game, completing 19/26 of his passes for 222 yards, with a 98.6 quarterback rating. Flacco also broke his 10 game interception streak, which was leading the NFL at the time. When the offensive line failed to protect Flacco the next week against Chicago, he struggled. Flacco completed 24/41 of his passes for 180 yards, finishing with a 48.08quarterback rating. Flacco was also intercepted twice. If the Ravens want to win this game against the Vikings, the offensive line will need to solidify and perform at a much higher level.
Wide Receivers Need to Perform
Much like the offensive line, the wide receivers for the Ravens were a weak point for Baltimore last week. Baltimore was missing their outstanding receiver, Jeremy Maclin, and also lost Breshad Perriman during the game. During the game, the battered receiving corps was unable to find separation from Chicago defenders. The Ravens receiving corps also found themselves dropping the ball at key times. Twice, the receivers failed to catch perfect passes, which lead to interceptions. On one play, Joe Flacco delivered the ball to Breshad Perriman, but Perriman took a nasty hit and flung the ball into the air. The ball was picked off and returned for a lengthy distance. On another play, Chris Moore did the same thing as Perriman, and the defensive back returned the interception for a touchdown. Michael Campanaro also dropped a ball, that would have lead to a crucial first down. Receiver Chris Matthews also tripped running his route in the end zone, resulting in him failing to get to a perfectly thrown ball. The Ravens may be missing their top three receivers for this game. Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, and Breshad Perriman, along with Chris Matthews, are dealing with injuries. It’s unknown who will play and who won’t this Sunday, but it seems that Chris Matthews and Breshad Perriman will likely miss the game. For the Ravens to win this crucial game, they will need the wide receivers that do play, to play well.
Run Defense Needs to Show Up
Since losing defensive tackle Brandon Williams, the Baltimore Ravens’ run defense has been lackluster. Last week, they let up 231 yards on the ground to the Bears offense. The Ravens are optimistic that Brandon Williams could return this week. He hasn’t been ruled out yet, and it looks like it will be a game-time decision for the Ravens. Regardless if Williams is on the field, the Ravens run defense needs to improve. Baltimore’s defense can be the best in the league if their run defense returns to form. The Ravens have a massive opportunity this week, for their run defense to perform well. Since losing the stellar rookie running back, Dalvin Cook, the Vikings’ rushing attack has been lackluster. The Ravens need to take advantage of a mediocre rushing attack and shut it down. With Brandon Williams potentially returning, this looks like the most likely to occur out of all three keys to a Ravens victory.
Predicting the Ravens vs Vikings Game
- Vikings quarterback Case Keenum throws for 250+ yards, and two touchdowns.
- The Vikings rush for less than 100 yards.
- Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco throws one touchdown and one interception.
- Ravens running back Alex Collins gains 75 yards rushing.
- Ravens defense sacks Keenum three times.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Vikings 20 – Ravens 10