The Vikings return home this week to host the Baltimore Ravens in what will be a marquee NFL matchup in Week 6. The Vikings come in undefeated, of course, while the Ravens – who advanced to last year’s AFC Championship Game – enter angry after 2 close losses to New England in Week 4 and Cincinnati at home last week.
The Vikings and Ravens have both fielded some of the league’s nastiest defenses over the past several seasons. No 2 teams have been better against the run than the Vikings and Ravens recently, and there’s no questioning the punishing force with which these teams’ defenders bring on to opposing ball-carriers. But what makes this matchup even more intriguing is that both of these teams also boast efficient and productive offenses, which will make for an even better game on Sunday at Mall of America Field at the HHH Metrodome.
These aren’t your 2000 Baltimore Ravens. That team won the Super Bowl thanks to the NFL’s #1 defense and in spite of the absence of an explosive offense. This team is different. The 2009 Ravens rank 5th in total offense with 382.2 yards per game and 5th in scoring offense at 27.6 points per game. The rushing attack features veteran Willis McGahee, who is tied with Adrian Peterson for the league lead in TDs with 7, and youngster Ray Rice, who is averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
The passing game is also a factor for Baltimore and it’s because of the pocket-poised Joe Flacco, a 2nd-year player who is proving last year’s outstanding rookie performance wasn’t a fluke. He’s completing 64.3% of his passes this year and has a passer rating of 90.2.
Defensively, the Ravens have not lost their edge. While they don’t rank quite as high overall as the Vikings statistically, Baltimore is allowing fewer rushing yards per game than Minnesota and they are also 10th in total defense and 12th in scoring defense. LB Ray Lewis and S Ed Reed are still the leaders of this unit, and those 2 will have their defensive teammates pumped up and ready to go on Sunday.
Lastly, here are a few important statistics to think about as we continue to prepare for this game. The defensive parallels in this matchup are obvious, but again, what makes this matchup even more interesting this year is the offensive similarities as well. Consider…
– The Vikings are tied for 1st in the NFL with 17 TD drives, while Baltimore is ranked 3rd with 16.
— The Vikings have scored 55 points off of turnovers (2nd in the NFL) and the Ravens have scored 45 (3rd in the NFL).
— On 3rd downs, the Vikings offense converts 48.6% of the time (3rd in the NFL) while the Ravens offense converts 46.9% of the time (5th in the NFL). Defensively on 3rd downs, the Vikings hold opponents to a 32.8% conversion rate (7th in the NFL) and the Ravens hold opponents to a 34.4% conversion rate (8th in the NFL).
— In opponents red zone TD efficiency, the Vikings rank 1st in the NFL (30.8%) and the Ravens rank 2nd (33.3%).
— In offensive red zone scoring, the Vikings and Ravens both rank 2nd in the NFL with 93 points.
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