Balitmore can't relax against Vikes, Peterson
By The Sports Xchange
Matt Cassel is expected to be the starting quarterback for the Vikings after throwing for 243 yards in relief of Christian Ponder, who left the game against the Bears after suffering a concussion. While Minnesota has struggled on the road, the Ravens have been strong at home with a 5-1 mark while allowing just 12.3 points per game. Baltimore is tied with the Miami Dolphins for the final AFC spot but holds the tiebreaker by virtue of its win over the Dolphins on Oct. 6.
About the Vikings
Peterson’s once-quiet season has picked up with 357 rushing yards over the past two games and his 1,208 yards are the most in the NFL. Cassel, starting for the first time since Oct. 13, has passed for five touchdowns and been intercepted four times. Defensive end Jared Allen hasn’t been the pass-rushing force he’s been in the past with a career-low six sacks after having a combined 34 over the previous two seasons. Defensive end Brian Robison shares the team lead with Allen after recording five sacks over the past five games.
About the Ravens
Ray Lewis may be off in retirement but the Baltimore run defense has been sturdy, ranking sixth in the NFL at 100.1 yards per game. The task of limiting Peterson’s production rates as a big challenge. “You’ve got to play good fundamental team defense,” defensive end Chris Canty told reporters. “We’ve got to be sound. We’ve got to be in our gaps. We’ve got to get 11 hats to the ball and swarm him.” Wide receiver Torrey Smith is 48 yards shy of his first career 1,000-yard season and has caught four of Joe Flacco’s 15 touchdown passes.
- Peterson rushed for 143 yards when the Brett Favre-led Vikings beat the Ravens 33-31 in 2009 in the most recent meeting between the teams.
- Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson leads the NFL by averaging 34 yards per kickoff return and is 258 away from surpassing the club’s single-season mark for kickoff return yardage held by Buster Rhymes (1,345 in 1985).
- Baltimore K Justin Tucker has made 27 consecutive field goals, the best current streak in the league.
Prediction: Ravens 23, Vikings 13