Baltimore Ravens (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS)
NFL Week 7
Date/Time: Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BAL +5.5/MIN -5.5
Over/Under Total: 40
The Baltimore Ravens take on the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday in week seven action from U.S. Bank Stadium. Minnesota is coming off two straight wins and at 4-2, they have managed to overcome some issues, especially at quarterback and elsewhere, as well. Their defense has been playing very well and they look for more of the same at home against a Baltimore offense that is laboring. On Sunday, Baltimore lost in overtime to the Bears after working hard to tie the game. The 27-24 loss was their third in four games and the form they showed in the first two games of the season seems long gone.
Even if you didnt get carried away with the Ravens after they started 2-0 and allowed ten combined points, its hard to figure out what has happened since. The defense, which was fierce early, has ebbed significantly and their run-stop is now among the worst in the league. They havent been very clutch when they needed to be. After falling behind by 14 at home to the Bears, they got back into the game, with Michael Campanaro running back a punt for a touchdown late. In overtime, they couldnt get anything going and with time running low, the Bears hit a FG for the win. Now, they have to pick up and go to Minneapolis against a defense that should really put their struggling offense to the test.
It would be one thing if Baltimore QB Joe Flacco were playing well, but his lack of good form and the dearth of playmakers on this side of the ball is proving to be costly. They have ball-catchers Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, and a decent TE in Benjamin Watson, with Javorious Allen and Alex Collins handle the run-duties. All in all, thats a pretty no-frills group and the stars on this offense would be side-pieces in most other offenses. Flacco has not looked like the same guy and threw for 180 yards and two picks on Sunday, one of which was returned 90 yards for a score. He has more than double the number of picks than he does touchdowns and his season-high for yardage is just 235 yards.
A solid-performing defense could help mask some of the issues on the Ravens offense and early in the season, that is what happened. As the defense has slipped, the inadequacies on the other side of the ball have come more into view. They gave up 167 yards on the ground to Jordan Howard on Sunday, as opposing run-games have been thriving against this bunch lately. Theyve played with a wide range of form this season and other than a decent showing against a Raiders team that was without Derek Carr, they have been exploited on different levels. They do make plays and have more potential than what is seen on the other side of the ball. The secondary has been playing very well, with Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Eric Weddle, and Tony Jefferson being very stout and making a lot of game-changing plays. Their ability to contain opposing aerial attacks could also be at least partially due to how easy teams have been able to run against this defense.
The Vikings being 4-2 through six games is a victory in itself. For a second straight season, QB issues have generated headlines. Sam Bradfords knee is still an issue, while Teddy Bridgewater looks to be finishing up his long recovery from devastating knee injuries. It looks like it will be Case Keenum for the time being. While not great, hes been good enough. There have been other injuries, with Dalvin Cook lost for the season and others missing time. But Jerick McKinnon has been doing well in relief. WR Adam Thielen has been making some plays and Stefon Diggs should be back soon from injury. Michael Floyd could still get into the mix and Kyle Rudolph is a productive tight end. Laquon Treadwell, a former first-round pick, finally made some nice plays last week. There have been a lot of moving pieces in this offense and with better health and more continuity, things could start clicking better.
The Vikings defense is really a handful. The secondary has been big and really makes a lot of plays. On Sunday, Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, and Trae Waynes all had picks. They are also stout from a yardage standpoint. They have given up a total of 34 points in their last three home games. In fact, this is their fifth home game already this season and they will want to make the most of it, with a lot of road games back-loaded on the schedule. Also on Sunday, the front was lethal. Everson Griffen has really been impressive this season and applies a robust pass-rush. He is helped up-front by Linval Joseph and on Sunday, DT Brian Robison had two sacks. This is a big part of the Vikings winning formula and they are getting better and better.
Even if you buy into the notion that the Vikings are getting better, while the Ravens are a bit sideways, taking the Vikings in this spot is problematic. They are prone to low point-outputs and close games. At the same time, the Vikes ahould have some success on offense and perhaps a whole lot more on the other side of the ball. I see the Vikings pecking and poking away on offense, while the D comes up big for the cover at home.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Minnesota Vikings minus 5.5 points. Bet this game and all of your wagers at a sportsbook that lets you bet at discounted odds (-105 instead of -110), thatoffers live in game betting and that has the biggest variety of wagers (including high school football betting). Oh, and they offer FAST no hassle payouts as well! —> 5Dimes!