Week 14 is upon us and it looks to be one heck of a matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings. There will be plenty of battles in this game, but the two that stand out are Joe Flacco vs. the Minnesota defense and Adrian Peterson vs. the Ravens’ defense. The player out of these two who can shoulder the load and help their offensive unit shine will lead their team to victory.
I’ll start with Flacco. He has had to step his game up lately in the absence of a run game from Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. Flacco has had more on his shoulders this season than any other because of the lackluster run scheme thanks to no holes being opened by the line. It appears that the Super Bowl MVP needs to step his game up as he has thrown five touchdowns and five interceptions in the last four games.
“Even money” in blackjack is not winning, and those stat will probably have you losing in football.
Flacco is fortunate to have a stout defense returning to form that has put him in good field position to start drives. He is also lucky that “Swag-matic” Justin Tucker has been so accurate when Flacco comes up short on a drive. He will need to take advantage of this weeks’ matchup as he faces the 30th-ranked pass defense in the league. Flacco is not the only one with a tough battle ahead. Having his own mountain to climb is Peterson.
Peterson has had to deal with injuries and when he is healthy, he has to worry about who is actually handing the ball off to him that week, as the Vikings have gone through the QB carousel this season. This week, it is Matt Cassel handing the rock to Peterson with Christian Ponder out.
This, however, is not the biggest of Peterson’s problems. He faces the NFL’s sixth-ranked run-stop in the Ravens. Now some would say, “oh well he’s Adrian Peterson”, assuming he’s going to handle business as usual. Baltimore is well aware of this type of offensive monster. I am certain they still remember Peterson chalking up 143 yards on 22 carries against them in 2009, and are preparing extra hard to at least slow Peterson down.
However, with such a poor offense, Peterson will have to shoulder the load in order to will his team to victory.
So considering the above, who’s going to put their team on their back and carry them to another win? Will it be Peterson on the ground or Flacco through the air? You be the judge.