Late For Work 10/16: Vikings 3-point favorites over Ravens

Plus experts’ picks, a Percy Harvin injury update, a defensive switch suggestion and punish or be punished.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, October 16th, 2009 at 9:34 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

The Ravens-Vikings contest is a Week 6 marquee matchup that has the experts divided. Not even Vegas knows which way this thing will play out, as the Vikings are only three-point favorites. Three points are typically given to the team with home field advantage.

There are two ways of looking at this one.

If Cedric Benson can rush for 120 yards, what kind of damage can Adrian Peterson impose? The 40-year-old Brett Favre is 5-0 for the first time in his career. And the Ravens are in a funk – the defense has not been living up to its top-tier standards and last week the Ravens’ No. 1 receiver Derrick Mason was held without a catch.

On the other hand, the Ravens do not want to go into the bye on a three-game slide and with a .500 record – they have a strong sense of urgency and they need this win more than the Vikings do. That motivation could propel the Ravens to their best performance of the season to date. Baltimore maintains they have performed well to this point, and they just need to make one or two plays to swing the momentum their way.

So, who will come away with a win? Your guess is as good as mine. Here’s what the analysts are predicting:

The Baltimore Sun staff is split – three writers picked the Ravens to win, and three others picked the Vikings. WJZ’s Mark Viviano broke the tie and predicted a Ravens’ 24-16 victory.

Peter Schrager of Fox Sports picked the Vikings to win 24-20, saying that he won’t pick against Favre – who currently ranks fourth in the NFL in passing efficiency (104.1 rating) – in the Metrodome anytime soon.

Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News is calling for the upset of the week – Baltimore over Minnesota 20 to 17. Iyer believes Ed Reed will force Favre into some mistakes after slowing Peterson first.

SI.com’s Peter King believes that neither defensive coordinator will go home happy after this one. “For goodness sake,” said King, “The Seahawks have played stingier defense [than the Ravens] through five weeks.” He picked the Vikings over the Ravens 30-23.

Two out of three NFL.com pundits picked the Ravens.

ESPN is split down the middle with four out of eight experts picking the Ravens.

Five out of three from USA Today believe in the Ravens.

And finally, two out of three from Yahoo! Sports predict a Ravens 4-2 record heading into the bye.

Look for Heap to have a big game

Vikings opponents have felt comfortable throwing the ball to their tight ends this season, says Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. In four out of five games, an opposing tight end has either led his team or been tied for the team lead in receptions.

Head coach Brad Childress admitted that the Vikings have decided, “what you are willing to live with,” and it appears they would rather have tight ends — and not speedy backs or wideouts — be the ones doing the damage

Harvin back at practice

Wide receiver Percy Harvin (left shoulder) was limited in Thursday’s practice after being held out Wednesday. “He moved around and did mostly everything,” Childress said. “Hopefully he takes another step [today].”

Switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4

Since the Ravens have had trouble getting pressure on quarterbacks so far this season, Baltimore Sun’s Mike Preston suggests the team should switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and allow some of the young linebackers – Antwan Barnes, Jameel McClain and Paul Kruger – to get involved in the pass rush.

Punish or be punished

Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune says that “punish or be punished” is Adrian Peterson’s credo as a running back. Peterson said his approach won’t change if he finds himself in the cross hairs of the Ravens’ menacing middle linebacker Ray Lewis on Sunday.

Scoggins believes a Peterson-Lewis collision would qualify as a super heavyweight matchup, one built on mutual respect.

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