The (5-2) Baltimore Ravens host the (3-4) Minnesota Vikings at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens are listed as 6-point favorites while the Vikings enter The Bank on the heels of a Sunday Night Football 20-16 loss at home to Cooper Rush and the Dallas Cowboys. Here are the RSR staff’s Bold Predictions for Sunday’s 1 PM game.
It seems like a month ago when the Ravens were thumped by the Bengals 41-17. They’ve had plenty of time to assess the damage and work towards fixing their deficiencies in the running game, across the offensive line, tackling and defending the pass. We’ll see if the downtime pays off as the Ravens host the Minnesota Vikings. History suggests that this should be a game that the Ravens control.
Since John Harbaugh’s arrival the Ravens are 10-3 after the bye, averaging 26.1 ppg while giving up 16.3 ppg. Plus, dating back to Week 13 of the 2018 season, the Ravens have won a league-best 11 straight against NFC foes. Will they make it 12 straight?
• Lamar Jackson will be responsible for 3 touchdowns, two by air, one by ground. Each will be from 25+ yards out.
• Rashod Bateman is on the receiving end of one of Lamar’s scoring strikes from 41 yards out.
• Ty’Son Williams leads all Ravens rushers not named Lamar with 41 yards rushing.
• The Vikings will run a no-huddle offense to start the game and it will produce a TD drive to start the game. The Ravens will adjust.
After an initial body blow that has the Ravens behind 7-0 early, they recover and cover the 6 point line. Michael Pierce’s homecoming isn’t a pleasant one.
Ravens 27 Vikings 14 (there’s that No. 41 again…)
The Ravens exit the bye week with a little-bit-kind-of-scary matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. The visiting team comes with special talent at the offensive skill positions, a coach who has frustrated Baltimore offenses in the past and a defense that has been generating a lot of pressure this season. This isn’t a cakewalk, by any means.
- Lamar Jackson does get loose in this game for 375 combined yards of offense, including topping the century mark on the ground. He also posts three touchdowns.
- Justin Houston sees some one-on-one opportunities, and eats to the tune of two sacks.
- Marlon Humphrey comes out with a strong game following the bye week, but the Vikings still throw for more than 300 yards on the day.
- Mark Andrews has a pretty quiet day due to the Vikings’ strengths at linebacker and safety, but Marquise Brown keeps making noise — 125 yards and a touchdown.
Ravens 31 Vikings 27
This never gets old… pic.twitter.com/d4qUAL8nQJ
— Tony Lombardi (@RSRLombardi) November 5, 2021
Kirk Cousins is having a nice year and they have weapons that can take advantage of the defensive issues the Ravens had before the bye.
A few things to look for:
- What IR players are coming back? Surprisingly, several guys didn’t practice this week, including Murray and Watkins and you figure if they don’t play this week, they aren’t playing Thursday night either.
- How is the tackling. That is easily the biggest defensive problem right now. They said they were going to work on it a lot during the bye, so we will see.
- How big is the Mekari loss going to play out? With Boyle back, he acts like a 6th O-lineman but he can’t be on both sides at the same time. The Mekari loss is huge since he was playing so well.
The Ravens’ next three games are, in a lot of ways, their season-defining games. They should win all three. Winning two is acceptable but definitely could hurt them. Winning just one could end their playoff chances.
Minnesota isn’t a pushover. They are 11th in DVoA (Ravens are 8th). Their offense is 14th and defense is 4th. Where the Ravens can take advantage is Special Teams. Minnesota is 30th in ST DVOA.
Blowouts can always happen as things start to snowball but I expect this to be a good game. Harbaugh teams are 10-3 coming off a bye. The Ravens should win but it may not be as easy as people think.
Ravens 30 Vikings 24
The Ravens come out of the BYE week with an opportunity to solidify themselves as a contender, despite their recent loss to the Bengals. With favorable divisional results during their week off, Baltimore find themselves once again atop the AFC North. An inconsistent Vikings team comes into M&T Bank Stadium looking to change that.
- Lamar Jackson said he feels “refreshed” after the BYE, and it shows as he has a perfect completion percentage in the first half and tosses 2 TD passes.
- Rashod Bateman leads Baltimore receivers in yards, going over 100 yards for the first time and scoring his first NFL TD.
- The return of Derek Wolfe proves massive, as Baltimore holds Vikings RB Dalvin Cook under 60 yards on the day. Cook does get a score, but it’s the only touchdown Minnesota musters.
- Odafe Oweh notches two sacks in the second half as the Ravens pitch a 2H shutout that also has 2 forced turnovers.
Ravens 27 Vikings 13
The Ravens are getting a little healthier at a time when it’s desperately needed. The sting of the Bengals loss hurts less after a week off from football and watching the big cats lose to the Jets. The Ravens are back in first place and should be refreshed and ready to play with a little more pep in their step The Vikings will offer many challenges even though they’ve been an inconsistent team. They have players on both sides of the ball that worry me. I’m most concerned with Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson.
- Lamar Jackson has a balanced day passing for 250 yards and rushing for 70 yards with 4 total touchdowns.
- Ty’son Williams gets out of the doghouse and makes the most of his opportunity with 80 yards and a touchdown.
- Rashod Bateman will be the leading receiver with 65 yards and a touchdown.
- Marlon Humphrey goes vintage 2020 Humphrey with the fruit punch forced fumble. (2020 is so vintage I know what you’re thinking )
- Justin Houston gets his 100th career sack in the 4th quarter.
- Odafe Oweh gets his first career interception off a Calais Campbell tip.
Ravens 31 Vikings 24
I’ve been awful picking Ravens games. I seem to be the reverse jinx for whichever way I lean in these games so my pick this week makes me feel a bit uneasy.
Historically, the Ravens perform very well out of the bye and they’ll have to again this week against an above average Vikings’ offense. For the majority of the season, the Ravens’ defense has struggled to stop anyone through the air. If Minnesota can get any resemblance of a run game going, the Ravens could be in trouble against the play-action with their 32nd ranked pass defense.
With that said, I think the Ravens will come out fired up and hungry after their humbling Week 7 loss to Cincinnati. The extra week will have given them time to put in some packages that the Vikings won’t be expecting and Baltimore will cover, but barely.
Ravens 27 Vikings 20
• Rashod Bateman records his first career receiving touchdown against the Vikings
• The defense gives up at least 400 total offensive yards, but holds firm in the red zone to keep the score down
• The Ravens have at least four sacks, with Houston, Campbell, Madubuike and Oweh among the contributors
• Baltimore’s offense racks up more than 450 total yards of offense and five touchdowns
• Hollywood Brown absolutely eats, racking up 150 yards and 2 touchdowns
The Ravens jump out to an early lead and don’t look back, despite a solid effort from the Vikings’ offense!
Ravens 42, Vikings 31