On Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens play the NFC North Division for a second week in a row as they travel to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings. Will the Ravens lose two straight to the NFC North or will they win this hard fought, smash mouth game? Kickoff inside U.S. Bank Stadium is at 1 PM ET.
The Ravens (3-3) are coming off an overtime loss at home to the Chicago Bears. Baltimore was behind for most of the game before storming back in the 4th quarter and tying it late in the game. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to capitalize on their chances in overtime and lost 27-24 to Chicago. The Ravens are struggling on offense and it will be hard sledding this week versus the tough Vikings defense.
Minnesota (4-2) accomplished two things last weekend: they defeated the Packers to get into first place in the NFC North and they knocked Packers QB Aaron Rodgers out for the season with a broken collar bone. Bottom line, the NFC North Division is now the Vikings’ to lose.
The spread opened with the Vikings favored by 4.5 points. It currently sits at Minnesota -5.5 points. The Over/Under opened at 39.5 points and has come down to 39 total points.
I have absolutely no confidence in the Baltimore Ravens. Every time you think they have turned the corner, they go and lose a winnable game. Case in point – Baltimore smashes the Raiders on the road, only to come home and lose to the Bears. They were totaled just 291 yards on offense and they turned the ball over 3 times.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco looked terrible against the Bears as he only threw for 180 total yards on 41 pass attempts. He was also picked off 2 times. Running back Alex Collins was only able to manage 74 yards on the ground and the Ravens offense just looked pathetic.
The Vikings defense is 5th in the league for scoring, only allowing 17 points per game, which is 2 points less than what Baltimore averages per game. Minnesota is 5th in the league for yards allowed per game and 3rd against the run. Bottom line, this is a very good defense and they will easily handle the Baltimore offense. Minnesota will bottle up that inconsistent Ravens run game and then beat up on Flacco all game long. His miserable 2017 season will continue, which will lead to more people calling for a change at quarterback.
As of now, Flacco has a 2-to-1 ratio of interceptions to touchdowns as he has thrown 8 picks and 4 tds on the season. That’s a terrible ratio, and one that typically gets a player benched.
On the offense, Minnesota has found the spark that they needed ever since their rookie running back Cook went down with a knee injury for the year. That spark is named Jerick McKinnon who has put together two solid outings since becoming the main ball handler for the Vikings. Two weeks ago, McKinnon totaled 146 yards and 1 touchdown against the Bears. Last week, he totaled 99 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Packers. In each game, McKinnon touched the ball over 20 times. I expect that trend to continue this week against the 3rd worst rushing defense in the NFL, who gives up 141 rushing yards per game.
Whether it’s Bradford or Keenum or Bridgewater, it doesn’t matter who plays quarterback for the Vikings this week. The key to this matchup is pounding the pigskin and the Vikings have a nice 1-2 combo of Murray and McKinnon to accomplish this.
Baltimore is 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games, 1-7 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games, and 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games on turf. The Vikings are 12-3 ATS in dome games, 16-5 ATS in their last 21 home games, 7-2 ATS in their last 9 non-conference games and 9-2 ATS after winning 2 or more consecutive games.
It’s a no-brainer for this game, the Vikings will win at home behind a strong rushing attack and a dominant defensive performance that will smother the Ravens offense all game long. This game might be low scoring, but the Vikings will still cover. I expect the Purple People Eaters to force Flacco into a few turnovers, win the field position battle, win the TOP battle, and win the game 20-10.