RAVENS PASSING GAME: Though he's not posting gaudy numbers, quarterback Joe Flacco has strung together two consecutive solid games, completing 67 percent of his passes for 524 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. His improved decision making, coupled by the return of the deep pass, has the Ravens optimistic that their offense is starting to get hot. The return of tight end Dennis Pitta, who is expected to make his 2013 regular debut Sunday, can only help matters.
VIKINGS PASSING GAME: Three different quarterbacks have taken snaps for the Vikings and none of them have performed particularly well. Vikings' quarterbacks have completed 60.3 percent of their passes for 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. With Christian Ponder dealing with a concussion, veteran Matt Cassel is expected to get the start. He's provided a little bit of a spark for Minnesota, but he's still turnover prone. Greg Jennings leads Minnesota with 43 catches but he's not the threat he once was.
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RAVENS RUNNING GAME: Barring a reappearance by the Chicago Bears' porous run defense, it's hard to imagine the Ravens having much success in the run game the rest of the way. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, they gained 74 yards on 25 carries. They rank 29th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (81.1) and last in yards per carry (2.9). Over the last two weeks, Ray Rice has 28 carries compared to 20 for Bernard Pierce so their respective workloads bear watching. The Ravens say they'll stay with the hot hand.
VIKINGS RUNNING GAME: Star running back Adrian Peterson has been on every Ravens' defender's mind this week. Peterson rushed for 211 yards against the Bears last week to eclipse the 10,000-yard mark for his career and up his league-leading total to 1,208. Despite facing defenses designed solely to stop him, he has more rushing yards than 10 NFL teams, including the Ravens, and he's scored 11 total touchdowns. The Vikings average 132.8 rushing yards per game, which is sixth in the NFL.
RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: The Ravens allowed their second rushing touchdown of the season and their first since Week 4 last Thursday, but they again were mostly able to contain the opponent's run game. The Ravens have allowed just one 100-yard rusher all season and that was Green Bay Packers' rookie Eddie Lacy in Week 6. However, they'll face their biggest challenge yet with Adrian Peterson in town. Daryl Smith leads the team with 95 tackles but slowing Peterson will require gang tackling.
VIKINGS RUSH DEFENSE: Minnesota had been known for its big and physical front, but this year's group has struggled at times, allowing 120.6 rushing yards per game and 13 rushing touchdowns. Former Maryland standout Erin Henderson was demoted to weak-side linebacker this week with Audie Cole starting in the middle. Henderson is second on the team with 81 tackles, including 13 for losses. Veteran strong-side linebacker Chad Greenway leads Minnesota with 87 tackles.
RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: Where has the pass rush gone? The Ravens are tied for fifth in the NFL with 37 sacks, but they have just five over the last three games. Their pass rush was shut out for the first time all season against the Steelers and rush linebacker Terrell Suggs hasn't had a sack since Nov. 3. The Ravens have been more formidable on the back end with Jimmy Smith emerging as a shutdown corner. The Ravens are allowing 228.9 passing yards per game, which ranks 12th in the NFL.
VIKINGS PASS DEFENSE: There is talent here, led by perennial Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen who has six sacks in what has been a down year by his standards. However, the Vikings' secondary has been abused all season, allowing a league-high 26 passing touchdowns. Teams are converting 44.2 percent of the time on third down against the Vikings and are averaging 287 passing yards per game. The Vikings haven't been able to consistently get to the quarterback or get off the field.