Ravens' improving offensive line faces Jared Allen
The surest thing about the Ravens-Vikings game tomorrow is that Mother Nature will be in a foul mood. A combination of snow, sleet and rain is expected to make conditions miserable at M&T Bank Stadium. But, as they say, the game will go on, and here's what the crystal ball expects to happen.
1. Dennis Pitta will play.
The Ravens tight end had another strong week of practice and said on Friday that the decision whether to play would be up to him. Still, the clock is ticking, and per NFL rules he needs to be activated by next week or put on season-ending IR. The guess is he gets limited work on Sunday and sees an increased workload at Detroit next Monday night.
2. The Ravens will score in the first quarter.
The Ravens slow starts appear to be a thing of the past. From Weeks 2-7, the Ravens scored one offensive touchdown in the first half, and were held scoreless in the first quarter four times. But they have jumped on teams lately, outscoring opponents 30-3 in the first quarter over the past four games.
3. Adrian Peterson will outgain all Ravens running backs.
The Vikings back has more rushing yardage this season (1,208) than 10 teams, including the Ravens (973). The Vikings will pound the ball with Peterson, especially if the weather is sloppy.
4. Joe Flacco will complete a 40-yard pass.
Flacco and his receivers are starting to hit their stride, and Flacco went deep right away against the Steelers, throwing long on two of the first five snaps. Despite potentially nasty weather, he'll look deep against the league's 30th-ranked pass defense. Don't rule out Torrey Smith turning a short catch into a huge gain.
5. The Vikings will get at least two sacks.
Scouts are saying Jared Allen, at 31, is not the pass rusher of years past. He is on pace for his lowest sack total in seven years, but he still a beast, and Brian Robison on the other side is no slouch. Michael Oher struggled greatly last week against the Steelers, and he will have his hands full with Robison.
6. Terrell Suggs will end his sack drought.
Speaking of sacks, Terrell Suggs hasn't recorded one in four games, after having at least one in seven of the first eight games. Suggs is getting plenty of pressure, but hasn't dropped a quarterback in a month. That will change. He will flatten Matt Cassel.
7. The Ravens will win the turnover battle.
The Ravens created no turnovers on Thanksgiving night, but the Ravens defensive backs have been more opportunistic of late, and they will come up with a big play or two. The Ravens rank 19th with a turnover margin of minus-3. The Vikings are 27th at minus-9.
8. Vikings will use Cordarrelle Patterson as a running back.
Wait, don't they have a guy named Peterson who's pretty good? Patterson, their first-round draft pick out of Tennessee, already has two kick return touchdowns and 30 catches as a wide receiver. But they continue to try to find ways to get the ball in his hands. He had a 33-yard touchdown run against the Bears last week.
9. Justin Tucker's streak will continue.
The Ravens kicker has been money in miserable weather. He went 8-for-8 in three straight games in howling winds, and he has hit 27 straight field goals. That has been huge for a team that has struggled in the red zone, and he will be on target again.
10. Ravens 20, Vikings 13
The weather figures to favor the ground game. Big edge to Minnesota there. But as usual, the Ravens defense will come up with a huge play or two, and the offense will do enough. It won't be pretty in the slop, but the Ravens will emerge with their third straight win.