3. Shutdown the run game, so the pass rush can get after immobile quarterback Joe Flacco.
The defensive game plan is quite simple. Stop the run and get after Flacco.
The Ravens boast a backfield duo of Javorius Allen and Alex Collins, who’ve helped Baltimore become the sixth best rushing offense in the league. Obviously, they have to be the Vikings priority to stop, so the league’s top run stopper Linval Joseph will be relied upon heavily.
By stopping the run, they’ll force Baltimore to rely on a 31st ranked passing offense, especially if Minnesota has control of the lead. This allows the likes of Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter to get after Flacco, who’s arguably the NFL’s slowest quarterback. As a result, the defensive front should be licking their chops.
Overall, making the Baltimore offense one-dimensional is the key here, allowing a disruptive pass rush and strong defensive backfield to take control of this game.
4. The Vikings’ special teams has to play disciplined, preventing the Ravens special teams from long returns or scores.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had this to say about the Ravens’ special teams:
Those are high words of praise from Minnesota’s head coach and rightfully so. Baltimore’s special teams is headed by Bobby Rainey Jr. and Michael Campanaro, who are the kick and punt returns, respectively. They’ve helped the Ravens rank first in kick return average and third in punt return average.
Specifically, Rainey Jr. averages 38.2 yards a return with all five returns coming against the Bears last week, including a 96-yard touchdown return. As for Campanaro, he took a punt return to the house to tie the game with the Bears and has averaged 13.8 yards per punt return. In other words, they are dangerous on special teams and in the case of last week, their special teams was the only reason they had the chance to win in overtime.
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The Ravens also have one of the best kickers in the NFL in Justin Tucker. He is 10-for-12 on the year, but boasts a career 89.4 field goal percentage. According to Pro Football Reference, that’s good enough for second all-time just behind Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey. Additionally, he’s never missed an extra point, which is impressive considering the amount of misses the Vikings have had in the last couple of years.
In all, the Vikings just have to be disciplined in their special teams coverage and hope they force Tucker into long field goal attempts. This just equates to special teams players following their assignments, wrapping up on tackles and limiting penalties.
Kai Forbath and Ryan Quigley also have to play smart football. Forbath has to get distance on his kickoffs to force touchbacks, while Quigley has to show off his directional punting expertise and get good hang-time on his punts.
If the Vikings win the special teams battle and make it a non-factor in the game, they put pressure on the Ravens offense to make plays, which they’ve struggled to do all season. This increases the chances of a Vikings win greatly.
Bottomline, the Vikings have their work cut out for them this week, but if they succeed in these areas of the game, they are in good shape to walk out of U.S. Bank Stadium with another victory! Skol Vikes!