Minnesota Vikings (8-6) at Baltimore Ravens (5-9)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 8:30 ET
TV: ESPN, Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann, Paul Maguire, Suzy Kolber
3rd meeting. The series is tied 1-1, with both games having been played in Baltimore. The Vikings beat the Ravens 38-28 during their 15-1 season in 1998 and lost 19-3 in the 2001 regular-season finale.
Vikings: offense 26th (28th rush, 22nd pass); defense 24th (19th rush, 22nd pass).
Ravens: offense 24th (18th rush, 23rd pass); defense 6th (13th rush, 7th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME
RB Jamal Lewis ran hard last Monday night, and that made a world of difference for the Ravens' offense. With decent time to look downfield, QB Kyle Boller had one of the best games of his career.
Baltimore will again lean on its running game, but it also wants to put Boller in play-making situations as the staff uses the final two games to evaluate whether he's still the quarterback of the future.
The game could hinge on how well the Ravens handle the Vikings' running game. When Minnesota was shut down on the ground last Sunday, the offense flopped because QB Brad Johnson didn't have an effective play-action game to work off of. RB Michael Bennett must be effective for the Vikings to move the ball with any consistency, which means the offensive line must have a stout performance in recognizing its blocking assignments against the Ravens' swarming 3-4 front.
Vikings: Have a three-game road winning streak. ... WR Koren Robinson leads the NFC with a 26.6-yard average on kickoff returns.
Ravens: Are 5-1 in their past six home games. ... Coach Brian Billick was Minnesota's offensive coordinator from 1993-98. ... QB Kyle Boller is 3-0 in his career at home against NFC teams.
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