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Baltimore Ravens @ Minnesota Vikings
1:00 ET @ The Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

Background:

After losing to the AFC North leading Cincinnati Bengals (What is this?! 2005!?), the Ravens have fallen two weeks in a row for the first time since weeks four to six in the 2008 season. Oddly enough, the Ravens have not won in BOTH Week 4 and Week 5 since the 2002 season. In the loss last week, the Ravens allowed their first 100 yard rusher in 39 consecutive games. Crazy enough, Cedric Benson was the one to break that mark. Not even LaDanian Tomlinson, Steven Jackson, Shaun Alexander were able to do that. Instead, it was Cedric Benson to become the first player since Larry Johnson in Week 14 of 2006 to run for 100 yards on Baltimore. With that record being broken, Cedric propelled his way into the lead for the rushing title and moved the Ravens from first against the rush to 4th.

Who really thought the Bengals would be 5-1 and leading the AFC North? Certainly no one outside of the fanbase. They were expected to be in the basement with the Browns after losing a key played in TJ Housmandzadeh and not really having much more talent on their team. Yet, the Bengals are still 18th in total offense and 17th in total defense while the Ravens are 5th and 10th and the Steelers are 7th and 4th.

I'd never thought I would say it; but ... thank God this game is in a dome. Currently, on Friday the 16th in Baltimore, it is 42 degrees, feels like 37 with 8 mile per hour wind gusts, and, oh yeah, its been raining all day. Just to the north of that, it is snowing around the area of Penn State. If this game was being played in Baltimore, the guys would be facing a HIGH of 45 degrees with it feeling more like 37, wind gusts at 20 miles per hour, and a 70% chance of rain.

The Ravens will be marching into Minnesota to face the Vikings who are still undefeated. Their 19th ranked offense is nothing to brag about even with their new quarterback of Brett Favre and the best runningback in the league with Adrian Peterson. Coupled with that, their 14th ranked defense is nothing spectacular either with their lowly passing defense.

Key Matchups:

The Williams and Jared Allen vs. Ray Rice and Willis McGahee

Appears as if we have a tag team matchup for you all this week. The feared defensive line of the Vikings that includes Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, and Jared Allen will be looking to stop the running attack that is Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. Rice has recorded two 100 yard games already this year and McGahee has seven touchdowns total between receiving and rushing.

The Vikings defense has only allowed an average of 96 rushing yards per game while their passing defense has allowed 224 yards per game. However, the Vikings have not faced a solid running attack yet with the exclusion of Steven Jackson. Jamal Lewis in Cleveland, Kevin Smith in Detroit, Glen Coffee in San Francisco, Ryan Grant in Green Bay aren't as solid as the tandem of Rice and McGahee.

Brett Favre vs. Ray Lewis

RIP AIR MCNAIR.

Much has been made of this match-up over the passed weak; mostly by the drama hungry ESPN. But, you have to agree that the best linebacker of this decade going against a popular quarterback of our era is entertaining. These two players know how to manage a game from their sides of the ball. They are certainly the masterminds on the field.

Players to Watch:

Ed Reed - Baltimore Ravens - Safety

Don't look now, but Ed Reed is finally back to his midseason form. Last week, he read a pass from Carson Palmer the entire way and took it to the house for just another six in his career. He also forced another turnover close to half as Chad Johnson was running after a catch. Ed Reed showed his best Ali impression and punched the ball out of Chad's hands were it was then recovered by the Ravens. Look for last week's game to give him another run like the end of last season.

Todd Heap - Baltimore Ravens - Tight End

I'll give this one to ESPN's crew on their preview of this game:

"You know, no team in the NFL gives up more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than the Minnesota Vikings. In fact, they have already given up four touchdowns in 5 games to opposing tight ends. ... Start Todd Heap ..."

Derrick Mason - Baltimore Ravens - Wide Receiver

Oddly enough, Derrick Mason was completely silent in the loss to the Bengals. After coming off an injury, Mason was held to zero catches by the Bengals. This week, the Ravens face the 18th ranked passing defense. Flacco will probably be dropping back to pass a lot this week with his target in mind being Mason.

Adrian Peterson - Minnesota Vikings - Running Back

Obviously, you want to watch Adrian Peterson. You probably want to do that every week. But this week is interesting. The Ravens are known for allowing little to knowing on the ground each and every year and allowing quite a few through the air. However, last week, the Ravens allowed 120 yards to Cedric Benson, whom, I'm going out on a limb here, is not as good as Adrian Peterson.

The Vikings are obviously a rushing team first, but they may want to pass it more against this Baltimore defense. But, I think they stick to their script and keep running Peterson.

Predictions:

Its been really depressing these past two weeks. Coming so close and ultimately losing in the end kills you on the inside. However, the Ravens defense is hungry and so is the team as a whole. The offense is also ready to explode for big yardage against the Vikings in their dome. Ravens win a rather close one 24-20.

 

Random Ravens Notes from the Week:

- Ray Lewis was fined 25K for his hit on Chad Johnson and kicking a player during the loss to the Bengals on Sunday. This comes after Chad Johnson twittered asking Goodell not to fine Lewis.

- Former Ravens kicker Matt Stover signs with the Indianapolis Colts after Adam Vinitari needs surgery.

- Former Ravens wide receiver and kick return specialist Yamom Figurs signs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

- The Ravens signed former Giants wide receiver and Super Bowl hero David Tyree. The reason behind this is still to come...

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