Preview: AFC North Leading Ravens Return From Bye Week to Take on Visiting Minnesota Vikings

The bye week for the Ravens seemed to come at the right time, after suffering a disappointing home loss at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens needed to hit the reset button and use the bye to correct a plethora of issues as they prepare to make a run in the second half of the season. With the lost the Ravens surrendered their AFC North lead, but the Ravens got some help on their bye week as the Bengals were upset by Mike White and the New York Jets. This allowed the Ravens to regain the division lead heading into Sundays matchup against the 3-4 Minnesota Vikings who are coming off a heartbreaking Sunday night lost to the Dallas Cowboys, who started quarterback Cooper Rush in place of an injured Dak Prescott.

The Ravens and Vikings have a short history against each other having only faced off six times, with the last matchup taking place in 2017. The Vikings will be the second NFC North opponent the Ravens have faced thus far this season, as the Ravens are 1-0 against the NFC North this season, defeating the Lions in week three 19-17. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has been a terror for teams in the NFC as Jackson has never lost to an NFC opponent, going 11-0 in his young career.

Ravens Rushing Attack

The 2021 Ravens rushing attack has not lived up to the historical rushing season of the past two seasons. The Ravens offense has relied on the likes of veterans Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, and Le’Veon Bell to headline the Ravens backfield. The Ravens rank seventh in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,046 and third in yards per game with 149.4. However without quarterback Lamar Jackson’s rushing ability the Ravens running backs alone have accounted for 535 total rushing yards good for 76.4 yards per game, that would rank near the bottom of the league.

The lack of production from the running back position in 2021 has been troubling and while the pass game has been much better than last year, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense is much more efficient when the Ravens can run the ball effectively. The blame however isn’t solely on the running backs as the Ravens offensive line has struggled to hold up all season, both in the run and pass game. The pressure is on Jackson to lead the Ravens rushing attack as they face off with a Vikings defense that gives up an average of 120.9 yards per game.

Marlon Humphrey Vs Justin Jefferson

Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey knows he needs to be better, as so far this season he has struggled to return to his 2020 form. While Humphrey may not be having the season he would have liked through eight weeks, he has been tasked with covering the opponents best receiver every week, not an easy assignment. While Alabama and LSU squared off on Saturday night, the former Crimson Tide cornerback will look to lockdown former LSU receiver Justin Jefferson on Sunday. Jefferson’s former LSU teammate Ja’Mar Chase got the best of Humphrey and the Ravens in week seven finishing with eight catches for 201 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown.

Jefferson had a stellar rookie season, and while his numbers in 2021 are down compared to 2020, Jefferson is still ranked 16th in the NFL in yards with 563. But while Jefferson ranks in the top half of the league in yards, the most troubling statistic for the Ravens is the big play ability that Jefferson posses. In 2021 Jefferson has recorded eight catches of 20+ yards, while the Ravens rank near the bottom of the league in yards allowed after the catch. Humphrey and the Ravens will need to do a better job tackling in order to contain Jefferson, a top target for Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.


Rest, along with an extra week to prepare for your next opponent has been a recipe for success for the Ravens who have been unbeatable coming off their bye week under head coach John Harbaugh. The Ravens offense will be firing on all cylinders on Sunday, as quarterback Lamar Jackson will be efficient in the pass game. But it will be his legs, once again being the Ravens leading rusher, that will leave the Vikings defense scrambling to make adjustments. The story on Sunday however will be how the Ravens defense responds after giving up 520 yards and 41 points to the Bengals in their last contest.

The lack of quarterback sacks as well as poor tackling have been major issue for a Ravens defense that ranks 25th in yards allowed. Tackling was a major emphasis for defensive coordinator Wink Martindale during the bye week, but Sunday will be another disappointing outing for this Ravens defense that will struggle to corral Vikings playmakers Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook. While the Ravens offense will have a solid day, it will be the Ravens defense that fails to get the Vikings offense off the field, keeping the game close throughout the afternoon. But a late defensive stop will be just enough to seal a Ravens less than stellar 24-20 win.

Line: Baltimore -6

Over/Under: 50.5

All-Time Record: Tied 3-3

Last Meeting: 10/22/17 Vikings 24-16

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