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The 3-4 Minnesota Vikings are far stronger on offense (7th) than they are on defense (20th), a big reason being their QB, Kirk Cousins, who has completed almost 70 percent of his passes this season while throwing just two picks, but now that DE Danielle Hunter (pectoral) is out, this Vikings defense needs to step up if they hope to travel to Baltimore to pick up their fourth win.
After a Week 8 bye, the 5-2 Baltimore Ravens are in charge of the AFC North with an offense that puts 27 points on the scoreboard each game, the direct result of a top-3 rushing attack featuring dodgy quarterback Lamar Jackson, but where they might run into trouble is when their weak passing defense (ranked last in the league) faces off against the Vikings’ 8th ranked passing attack.
These two cross-conference rivals have played each other just 6 prior times, with the Baltimore Ravens winning 3 of those games and the Minnesota Vikings also winning 3 of the games.
One of the main keys to beating the Baltimore Ravens is figuring out a way to contain their mobile quarterback Lamar Jackson, a speedy and agile team leader who seems to earn a first down scrambling whenever it’s needed.
Minnesota’s front line will be missing star defensive end Danielle Hunter (pectoral) for this one, so the job of keeping Jackson in the pocket falls to next man up Everson Griffen (below) and D.J. Wonnum on the other end, plus defensive tackles Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson.
Easier said than done, Jackson eludes the best of tacklers, so Vikings defensive backs can help out by extending their coverage for an extra few seconds, not easy when the Ravens receivers play fast and cagey the way Sammy Watkins and Marquise Brown tend to do.
The Ravens have been struck by the injury bug already with 16 players listed on IR at this point and many of those men are on defense leaving the remaining healthy few to try and keep the opposing quarterback Kirk Cousins from having a good game.
Tough to shut down Cousins, an accurate and risk-averse passer, but the Ravens have a secondary that, when healthy, can do the job, with cornerbacks Anthony Averett and Marlon Humphrey with nickel-back Tavon Young all performing well so far this season.
The Ravens have five team interceptions in 2021, so they are due for some ball stealing on Sunday, but against a guy like Cousins who has only thrown two interceptions in 2021, they might have to settle for passes defended.
With star defensive end Danielle Hunter (pectoral) out, one of his main backups, Everson Griffen, will most likely get the starting nod on Sunday, a chance for the 12-year NFL veteran to prove he still has fuel left in his defensive tank.
Griffen played for the Vikings for the first ten years of his professional career, then spend some time in Dallas and Detroit before returning to Minnesota, and so far this season he has played in six games, starting in three of those, now with 5 sacks, 9 quarterback hits, 12 total tackles, and a forced fumble.
Griffen will play a key role in containing Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, one of his many roles being to seal one of the edges so that the speedy quarterback cannot escape, the perfect job for Griffen, a man with 85 .5 career sacks and almost 200 quarterback hits.
A major part of Baltimore’s top-3 offense is their rushing attack often led by QB Lamar Jackson but also included there is a veteran running back Latavius Murray, a 6’ 3” 230-pound force to be reckoned with who is now playing in his eighth NFL season.
This is Murray’s first year with Baltimore after jumping from Oakland to Minnesota to New Orleans, so he is most likely looking for a solid place to settle to bring his career 4.2 yards per carry average and his 47 total touchdowns.
So far this season, Murray has carried the ball 59 times in six games for 212 yards and 4 touchdowns while catching 4 balls off 5 targets for another 25 yards, a dual-threat whose talents should come in handy for Baltimore on Sunday.
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|Vikings vs Ravens Information
|Minnesota Vikings vs Baltimore Ravens
|M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD
|Sunday, November 7, 2021; 1:00 PM ET
|How to watch
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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