Nothing like a nice, solid 5-9 team with a shaky quarterback to come along and right the Vikings' ship (hahaha, ship, like the boat scandal, get it? HAHA). Then again, the game is going to be outside, in the cold, at night. And the Ravens' defense is nothing to scoff at, which makes them a lot different then most of the teams the Vikings have beaten. And, after their offense put up 435 yards of total offense and 48 points on the Packers on Monday night, it seems that the defense might actually have something to worry about besides just scoring points.
Here's the thing though: Kyle Boller turns the ball over. He has thrown nine picks in seven starts and his passer rating is 71.9, which is a career high. Basically, he's Joey Harrington with a bird on his helmet instead of a lion. He's exactly the kind of quarterback that the Vikings have faced in everyone of their wins so far this year. The Ravens try and compensate for his inadaquecy by running the ball. Jamal Lewis, however, after spending most of the offseason in jail, hasn't been anywhere near as effective as he was in the past. And you know that Big Pat is going to have a huge game after getting passed over for the Pro Bowl.
So the Vikings' defense looks like it's going to be able to do its job. The offense, however, is going to run into some problems, especially since Melvin Fowler and Marques Johnson are out with injuries. A shaky offensive line is always fun, that's for sure. And the Ravens are pretty good at defensive (when are they not?). They have held teams to only 3.8 yds a carry, which is the eighth best in the league. When you consider that the AFC North is probably the premier rushing conference, that says a lot. It's very likely that the Vikings will struggle to run the ball on Sunday (which seems to be a recurring theme). Even less comforting is that they are even better at stopping their opponents passing game. They are seventh in the NFL in passing yards against, and eleventh in sacks. And, once again, they are facing an immobile quarterback who is being protected by guys who were benched earlier this year. At least we know that Brad Johnson never makes bad decisions when faced with pressure, right?
And so, once again, it's going to fall on the defense to win the game on Sunday. And like last week, just getting turnovers may not be enough. If the Vikings don't score on defense or special teams, then odds are they aren't going to score enough (or even at all). To be honest, I just don't see it happening on Sunday. And if they lose, you can kiss a playoff berth goodbye (and, hopefully, Mike Tice as well).