Here’s how The Baltimore Sun sports staff views the outcome of Sunday’s Week 9 game between the Ravens (5-2) and Minnesota Vikings (3-4) at M&T Bank Stadium:
Jonas Shaffer, reporter
Ravens 27, Vikings 17: After a week off, the Ravens get back to work against a team that, on paper, should push them where they’re weakest. But Kirk Cousins is one of the NFL’s most conservative quarterbacks, and Minnesota’s elite pass rush just isn’t the same with Danielle Hunter sidelined. Considering John Harbaugh’s record after bye weeks, this is a matchup the Ravens should feel good about.
Mike Preston, columnist
Ravens 28, Vikings 24: The Vikings aren’t as bad as their record and they’ve been competitive. Minnesota will give the Ravens problems. Defensively, the Vikings are athletic up front and they can put consistent pressure on quarterback Lamar Jackson. Minnesota has a better than average passing game and they will take opportunities to go long. Unfortunately, Minnesota lacks enough game-changers to win and the Ravens will prevail from having an extra week to prepare from the bye.
Childs Walker, reporter
Ravens 27, Vikings 20: If the Ravens struggle to tackle again, they could be in for a long afternoon against Minnesota’s dink-and-dunk offense. No one has blown out the Vikings this season. But the Ravens will be rested and eager to put their loss to the Bengals behind them. Their running game will come out of hiding against a porous Vikings front, and Lamar Jackson will mix in enough big strikes to get his team back on track.
Ryan McFadden, reporter
Ravens 28, Vikings 21: After a blowout loss to the Cincinnati Bengals before the bye week, expect the Ravens to come out with a fiery edge. Lamar Jackson will make enough big plays to keep his team ahead. The Vikings’ Kirk Cousins is a more conservative quarterback and will dump short passes off to his receivers, which means the Ravens tackling issues will need to be resolved in order to win on Sunday.
C.J. Doon, editor
Ravens 27, Vikings 17: After a disappointing 2020 season, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer’s defense is one of the best in the league again, led by a front seven that ranks second in the NFL in sacks and pressure rate. Minnesota has the league’s fourth most efficient defense, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA, which should make life difficult for Lamar Jackson and Co. But the Ravens are getting healthy on offense, with tight end Nick Boyle expected to return and help pave the way for what’s been a lackluster running game. In the end, the Ravens have the better quarterback and won’t make the kind of mistakes Minnesota did in a loss to Cowboys backup quarterback Cooper Rush.
Tim Schwartz, editor
Vikings 31, Ravens 27: Upset alert. The Vikings are a tough team to beat when they have everything clicking, which admittedly has been a crapshoot this season. But Kirk Cousins can light up a defense on any given Sunday, especially with wideouts Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, and the Ravens’ depleted unit looks pretty appetizing right now with their tackling issues. Running back Dalvin Cook is as healthy as he’s been all season and could be in for 20-plus carries. Even against a stout and rested Baltimore run defense, slowing Cook down could be a tough task. Minnesota has lost its four games by a combined 20 points and none have been by more than a touchdown, so expect another close one where the home team falls just short.