Carroll County Times

Three questions facing Ravens heading into matchup with Vikings

Can the Ravens limit Vikings RB Adrian Peterson?
How much they can will likely go a long way in determining whether they win or lose today. Minnesota does have some decent players at wide receiver. Greg Jennings has been a productive player in the league for a long time. Jerome Simpson is a decent player. And first round pick Cordarrelle Patterson is an athletic player who is highly capable of making big plays with the ball in hands. But this is an offense unquestionably built around Peterson. The Vikings may have some talent at wide receiver, but their quarterback play has been bad. Matt Cassel will start against the Ravens. Cassel has been primarily a backup for Minnesota after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs during the spring. But stopping Peterson won't be easy. Baltimore is allowing the fourth-fewest yards per carry in the AFC (3.7), but Peterson is averaging 4.6 yards per carry even with all of the attention he gets from opposing defenses.

Can the Ravens' offensive line neutralize Minnesota's defensive ends?
The Vikings haven't put up big sack numbers. They are just 24th in sacks. But they have three defensive ends that can cause problems rushing the quarterback. The Ravens' offensive line has improved in recent weeks. Joe Flacco was sacked just twice by the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. But Baltimore right tackle Michael Oher did struggle during that game, and both Oher and left tackle Eugene Monroe will be challenged in trying to stop Minnesota defensive ends Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen from getting to Flacco today. Allen's numbers are down this year, but he had 22 sacks in 2011, 12 sacks last season and still has a respectable six sacks this year. Robison also has six sacks and had eight sacks in 2011 and 8.5 last season. Griffen only has three sacks this year, but Ravens offensive coordinator said this week that Griffen is more disruptive than the numbers show, and he did have eight sacks last season.


Can Joe Flacco take advantage of a bad Vikings pass defense?
A lot of that could come down to how well Monroe and Oher do against Allen, Robison and Griffen. Weather could also play a role since was calling for snow and temperatures around 30 degrees as of Friday morning. But this is a good matchup on paper for Flacco and the Ravens' passing game. The Vikings have struggled to stop the run, too. They are ranked just 23rd in run defense. But they have even worse against the pass. Backup Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown threw for 355 yards and two touchdowns against them last week. And for the year, their pass defense is ranked third-worst in the NFL, giving up an average of 287 yards per game. Also working in Flacco and the Ravens' favor is that Flacco has heated up of late and has played probably his two best games of the season the last two weeks.