Behind Enemy Lines: Previewing the Vikings’ matchup with the Ravens

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At 3-4, Minnesota will have to try and bounce back against a 5-2 Baltimore team on Sunday.

The Viking are missing CB Patrick Peterson and DT Michael Pierce for the Week 9 matchup. Also, DE Danielle Hunter is out for the rest of the year with a pec injury.

The Ravens, while dealing with injuries themselves, can take full advantage of a depleted Minnesota defense. Vikings Wire previewed the matchup with Kevin Oestreicher of Ravens Wire:

The Ravens are 5-2. Would you say Baltimore has met, exceeded or fell under expectations?

Photo: Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports

All things considered, I’d say Baltimore has met expectations, and even gone a bit over what was expected after the team lost a plethora of key players to injury before the year started including running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, cornerback Marcus Peters, and inside linebacker L.J. Fort. They’ve found ways to win close game after close game, while also showing flashes of dominance. They fell back down to earth a bit in an embarrassing home loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, but so far the season has been going well.

Lamar Jackson showed in 2019 he was one of the best players in the NFL. How do you think his game has changed since then?

Photo: Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

Jackson has shown growth in every year since entering the NFL in 2018, and in 2021 he’s taken a massive leap forward, especially throwing the football. After his MVP season in 2019 he added to his game, but his box score stats dropped off, which means that many thought that he regressed. However, that wasn’t the case, and he now looks more calm and collected in the pocket, is zipping footballs to open receivers, and continues to improve on his deep ball accuracy. He isn’t a perfect player, but he’s shown that he will be one of the best players in the NFL for a long time.

Michael Pierce has to do blank to be successful in Minnesota

Photo: AP Photo/Jeff Dean

Pierce made a really nice name for himself in Baltimore, and turned that into a big-money contract with the Vikings. If he can plug up rushing lanes consistency and also generate a bit of interior pressure he should have continued success in Minnesota. It’s unfortunate that he won’t be suiting up in Week 9, but when he’s on the field he should make a big impact.

Who is the most underrated player on the Ravens?

Photo: AP Photo/Nick Wass

Safety Chuck Clark has had a phenomenal year thus far. He’s the glue that holds the Baltimore defense together, as he wears the green dot and has an extremely high football IQ. He plays all over the field for the Ravens, and is a massively underrated part of how successful Baltimore has been.

What is the key to Baltimore’s success this season?

Photo: Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

There are a few reasons why Baltimore has been successful this season, but the growth of the passing game has to be near the top of the list. With players such as Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews playing at a high level, plus other pass catching weapons such as Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman, James Proche II and others stepping up when needed, Lamar Jackson has no shortage of talent to throw the ball to. Couple that in with how Jackson has improved and it has created an almost lethal passing offense

Score prediction time! Who wins and why?

Photo: Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

I think that the Ravens are hungry to play extremely well after their Week 7 loss to the Bengals. They’ve had two weeks to think about it after being on their bye in Week 8, so I expect Baltimore to come out with a ton of energy. The Ravens are 10-3 in games immediately following a bye with John Harbaugh at the helm, and I expect that record to improve to 11-3 by the time Sunday is over. Ravens 33, Vikings 23

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