Keep it here all day to post your thoughts and comments before and during today's game between the Baltimore Ravens at the Minnesota Vikings. It's going to be a real tough one, considering the Ravens are in the midst of a two game losing streak at 3-2, while the Vikings sit among the top few teams in the NFL at 5-0.
But that doesn't matter at all once the teams take the field. The Ravens will be by far the toughest test for this undefeated Minnesota team. While the Vikings have won every game this season, they haven't faced the hard hitting Ravens, who up until last week, were as balanced a team as there was in the league. The home loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last week soured a lot of people on this team, but they have proven they can play with the tough teams based on their win at San Diego and last second losses to the New England Patriots as well as the Bengals.
(More on Ravens @ Vikings: Prediction & "Open Thread" after the 'Jump')
The Vikings also present what should be the Ravens toughest test of the season. Adrian Peterson is the best RB in the league, Brett Favre is playing more like a 20 year old than a 40 year old, the offensive line is big and nasty, and that's just their offense! Defensively, Minnesota may have the best front seven in the league, stopping the run as well as the pass. Their cornerbacks are solid, shut down their opponents' top receivers and make the big plays, leading the league in interceptions.
Since I'm such a home town fan, I see that the Ravens seem to play to their opponents' expected level of competition. This means that we play as good or as poorly as the opponent appears to be playing. Part of the reason the Ravens lost last week to he Bengals is that we fully expected the game to be an easy win but sadly found out that Cincinnati was for real. In both games at the Patriots and Chargers, we either hung tough or took the game to them, not feeling the pressure and folding when we got behind early in the game. I see the same thing happening today, as the team knows they're in for a brutal battle and have their backs against the wall.
Facing an angry Ravens team is not something most teams want to do, but knowing the Vikings, they'll be up to the task. Peterson should get his yards, but as long as the Ravens stop the long run, they should still be in the game. Forcing Favre to throw more than the game plan wants to is in the Ravens favor. While Favre has enjoyed a great season thus far, the Ravens have faced him with success in the past. If Favre has to air it out for the Vikings to win, the Ravens can pin their ears back, pressure him to return to his gunslinger mode and make the interceptions to change the game.
Offensively, I fully expect the Ravens to pound the rock more this game than they did last week, which should open up the passing game. Willis McGahee needs to be involved on a regular basis to spell Ray Rice, plus pounding LeRon McClain into the front wall of the Vikings defense should soften them up for the big play. The Vikings have been susceptible to the passing game, usually to the slot receiver and the tight ends. Expect to see a lot of throws to both Kelley Washington and Todd Heap and perhaps even a L.J. Smith and David Tyree sighting.
With that gameplan, I can see the Ravens upsetting the Vikings and getting back on the winning track. Baltimore likes to be the underdog and gets little respect from the experts. Surprisingly, four of seven writers from The Baltimore Sunpapers actually are picking the Ravens to win this game. Even more surprisingly, I agree with those that do, as I see us getting the pressure on the QB that wasn't there last week and while we've lost our last two games and left points on the field, we could have easily won those games with one more good play on offense or defense. Today we make those "one more plays," both on offense and defense, and drop Minnesota from the ranks of the unbeatens in front of their home fans to go into a well deserved Bye week at 4-2.