Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (6-6 SU, 6-6 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date and Time: Sunday, December 8, 1pm ET
Where: M&T Bank Stadium
by Evergreen, Pro Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MINN +7/BALT -7
Over/Under Total: 43
On to the next month, on to the next belt loop after Thanksgiving overindulgence
and on to the full force playoff push that is the NFLs Week 14. Every game
is ultra-important come this time of year, sometimes to only one team however,
and that kind of matchup is exactly what we have with the Minnesota
Vikings facing off against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Vikes are mired is a pretty forgettable season but the ultimate impact
provided by Adrian Peterson gives them a chance in this one versus the defending
Superbowl champs. The Ravens are underperforming this season to say the
least but they are 6-6 and still in the playoff hunt, both as a wildcard
and as a division winner, entering the week just two games back of the AFC
East leader Cincinnati with a head to head remaining.
Not much variance in the point spread here as Vegas and the online betting sites are in agreement with Baltimore as a seven point favorite and the over/under total at 43. This one looks to be tough sledding for Minnesota as they are winless on the road this year with Baltimore sporting a 5-1 mark at home but the Vikings are 3-3 ATS as visitors and have the same 6-6 overall ATS record as the Ravens. Coin flip, anyone?
We know all about the impressive stats AD brings to the table but Minnesota has had major quarterbacking issues that have effectively cancelled out Petersons league leading rushing total. Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman have simply failed to put together a consistent passing threat to take the heat off Peterson and good opposing defenses, like Baltimores, have been able to limit the damage done by the run game. The Minnesota defense hasnt helped either, and their lack of production further puts the pressure on the pass game as the Vikings have too often had to go to the air to play catch up. Matt Cassel looks to be the starter this week, in part due to a Ponder concussion, but also due his relatively efficient play in last weeks narrow OT win. Cassel looks to be better equipped to move the ball down the field, throwing for 243 yards and a score in relief against the Bears, but also looks to be the best option to utilize playmakers like Greg Jennings. Jennings has had success with Cassel at the helm and at this point, offense is necessary with Minnesotas defense dead last in points allowed. (30.5)
Baltimore is feeling the not-so-uncommon Superbowl hangover but they have won two straight and now get what looks like an easy opponent at home. They can take a huge step forward to salvaging success from this season but, like the Vikings, they will also need to find consistency moving the ball and scoring points. The Ravens are 25th in points scored at just over twenty per game and most of the blame falls on the absolute lack of ground game production. The offensive line is not creating holes as neither Ray Rice nor Bernard Pierce have managed even three yards per carry on average and that has led to an overwhelming amount of third and long situations. Joe Flacco has had to put the ball up more than the coaching staff would like and he has not responded all that well, throwing fourteen interceptions and completing fewer than 60% of his attempts. The defense is still strong, and likely the best unit on the field for either side this weekend, as Baltimore enters the week 7th in points allowed, 10th in total yards allowed and 6th in rushing yards allowed.
Aside from the Ponder injury, which may not be an overall negative to the on the field situation, the Vikings are clean on the injury sheet. Baltimore will welcome back TE Dennis Pitta from a hip injury but may be without LB Elvis Dumervil (Questionable-Leg) and his team leading 9.5 sacks.
I really dont see a lot of intrigue in the game planning here. Expect Minnesota to stay run heavy, especially with any type of early success there and utilize the play-action and bootleg pass game when the safeties come down. Baltimore counters with a run stop focus to put the ball in Cassels hand while blitzing Terrell Suggs. The game should play pretty quick as Baltimore will run as well and use the underneath passing game against the third worst passing defense of the Vikings. Minnesota would be wise to keep getting the ball to Cordarelle Patterson however possible as the exciting rookie is coming into his own via big plays from scrimmage and in the return game.
Seven seems a lot to give in this one, especially since the Vikings average a few more points per game than Baltimore. Peterson looks to being going well after some nagging injuries and he will keep this one close even if the Ravens can limit him. I like Patterson to have another strong outing and Cassel to move the ball enough to keep Blair Walsh busy. Baltimore is coming off the mini bye week after playing on Thanksgiving so I like them to win but this will be close. Take the Vikes and the points. Baltimore 24 Minnesota 19
Evergreen’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Minnesota plus the points.