TV Schedule: Sunday, Dec. 8, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Stadium: M&T Bank Stadium
Weather: High 40, Low 36
Line: Baltimore (-7)
The Baltimore Ravens are coming off a Super Bowl campaign in 2012 and they are looking to make another run at the NFL title, but they will need a late-season push after posting a 6-6 record through 12 games. They may need to win the rest of their games to stay alive, but the wild card is in reach. Joe Flacco signed a big contract in the offseason, but has yet to perform up to expectations, passing for 2,993 yards and 15 touchdowns for the 19th-ranked passing offense in the league. Torrey Smith leads all receivers, by a wide margin, with 952 yards and four scores on 54 catches while the next closest target, Dallas Clark, has just 31 catches for 343 yards. Ray Rice has struggled more than any top running back in the league this season, rushing for just 482 yards and four touchdowns.
Coming off an overtime victory against the Chicago Bears, the Minnesota Vikings are taking baby steps this season toward a respectable record. Minnesota has had a poor quarterback situation all season long, leading to the eighth-worst passing offense in the league with Christian Ponder getting most of the starts. Ponder has struggled to stay healthy this season and has just struggled in general, passing for 1,648 yards and seven touchdowns while Matt Cassel has come in for mop-up duty after Ponder’s wealth of injuries. Jerome Simpson is the team’s leading receiver with 39 catches for 622 yards and no scores while Greg Jennings is close behind with 43 catches for 517 yards and three scores. Adrian Peterson continues to be one of the best running backs in the NFL, rushing for 1,208 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year.
Defensively, the Vikings have been one of the worst units in the league. Minnesota ranks close to last in nearly every major category on defense — 32nd in points allowed, 30th in total yards allowed and passing yards allowed and 23rd in rushing yards allowed. Baltimore has been known for its defense for the past couple of years. The Ravens rank 10th in total yards allowed and seventh in points allowed per game.
PREDICTION: Vikings 17, Ravens 27
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.