Can Ravens get ahead to take Peterson out of the game?
Game preview What: Vikings (3-8-1) at Ravens (6-6)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: M & T Bank Stadium
Five questions that need answering
1. Can the Ravens contain Adrian Peterson?
Let’s cut to the chase. Does anybody think the Vikings will win Sunday without a big game from Peterson? In two of their three victories, Peterson has rushed for at least 140 yards. Last week against the Bears, Peterson ripped off 211 yards and the Vikings won in overtime. With Haloti Ngata, Arthur Brown, and Chris Canty all ready to go, the Ravens feel good about their defensive line and their run defense. But Peterson is the best. If he gets off, the Vikings have a chance.
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2. Will the Ravens’ pass rush wake up?
The Ravens didn’t sack Ben Roethlisberger on Thanksgiving. Terrell Suggs hasn’t had a sack in four games. Are the Ravens’ main pass rushers wearing down? It’s certainly a possibility, although Suggs insists he feels great. If Matt Cassel is under duress, he is the kind of quarterback the Ravens can rattle. But any NFL quarterback can be effective if given time. The Ravens need to make sure Cassel doesn’t get comfortable.
3. Can the Ravens run the football?
Seems like we ask this question every week. And usually, the answer is no. However, the Vikings rank 23rd against the run, so maybe the Ravens can do business. Don’t be surprised to see Bernard Pierce get at least 10 carries. Pierce had more yards (35) than Ray Rice (32) last week, even though Pierce had three fewer carries. The Ravens can’t afford to wait for Rice. If Pierce is running the ball more effectively, he needs to get more touches.
4. Will the Ravens suffer a letdown?
They have 10 days between games. They are solid favorites. They are at home. They have won two straight. Could be a scenario for a letdown. The Ravens have no business looking past this game, knowing that a loss could be devastating to their playoff chances. But it will still be interesting to see the Ravens’ level of intensity, particularly at the start.
5. Is Joe Flacco starting another hot streak?
Flacco has played very well in his last two games against the Jets and the Steelers. He played the best football of his career during the Ravens’ Super Bowl run last season. This is Flacco’s favorite time of year, when the chips are on the table, and Vikings’ pass defense is not that good. Josh McCown of the Bears threw for 355 yards against the Vikings last Sunday. If the Vikings give Flacco time to throw, he could have a huge day.