The Baltimore Ravens have had an extra week to dwell on an ugly home loss, but they'll look to use that as fuel when they host the Minnesota Vikings — who also badly need a win — in a Week 9 inter-conference showdown.
Minnesota is coming off a disappointing loss to Dallas' backup QB on Sunday Night Football and NFL betting lines have the Vikes as 5.5-point underdogs at M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday.
Here are our best free NFL picks and predictions for Vikings vs. Ravens on Sunday, November 7.
Vikings vs Ravens odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
This line opened at Ravens -5.5 and at the time of writing is still sitting at that number, while the total has ticked down from the opening 50 to 49.5.
Vikings vs Ravens picks
Picks made on 11/3/2021 at 3:13 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Vikings vs Ravens game info
• Location: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
• Date: Sunday, November 7, 2021
• Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
• TV: FOX
Vikings at Ravens betting preview
Vikings: Michael Pierce DT (Out), Danielle Hunter DE (Out), Patrick Peterson CB (Out).
Ravens: Sammy Watkins WR (Out), Brandon Williams DT (Out), Patrick Mekari G (Out), Latavius Murray RB (Out), Malik Harrison LB (Out), J.K. Dobbins RB (Out), Gus Edwards RB (Out), Marcus Peters CB (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Ravens are 6-0 ATS in their last six home games against teams with losing road records. Find more NFL betting trends for Vikings vs. Ravens.
Vikings vs Ravens predictions
Ravens -5.5 (-110)
The Ravens were flying high, having won five straight and coming off a 28-point beatdown of the Chargers... and then they got absolutely stomped at home by the Bengals in Week 7 by a 41-17 margin. While the Ravens can still keep their heads up, sitting atop the division at 5-2, that loss to Cincinnati highlighted a glaring issue for Baltimore — pass defense.
The Ravens give up an NFL-worst 296.1 passing yards per game. Injuries have played a part in Baltimore's defensive shortcomings, as has a less-aggressive game plan from DC Wink Martindale, who blitzed on 50.2 and 42.5 percent of quarterback dropbacks the last few years but is only bringing the heat on 32.5 percent of dropbacks in 2021.
The poor pass coverage has negated a run defense that allows the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game, meaning which version of Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins we see on Sunday could very well determine the outcome of this game.
(Spoiler alert: we're not holding our breath for the "You Like That?" version of Kirk)
We last saw the Vikes on SNF, falling 20-16 at how to the 6-1 Cowboys. That's nothing to hang your head at... except Dallas was without Dak Prescott, as Minnesota lost to backup Cooper Rush. Cousins threw for just 184 yards and one TD in the loss — the third time in the last four games that he has tossed just a single touchdown.
Combined with a backfield that isn't isn't getting as much usage (from sixth-highest rush percentage in 2020 to 19th in 2021) and isn't quite as effective (RB Dalvin Cook is averaging a career-low 4.7 yards per touch) and you've got a team currently with an unreliable offense and a defense in the bottom half of the league in both rushing and passing — that just lost arguably its best player (DE Danielle Hunter) and now has to face former MVP Lamar Jackson.
Seemingly the only unit that's actually performing in this game, Baltimore is third in the NFL in offensive ypg, eighth in points, and third in rushing, despite trotting a plethora of no-names and has-beens each week at RB. Why? Because Jackson has thrown for a career-high 277.6 ypg while still remaining on pace for his third-straight 1,000-yard rushing campaign. The Ravens' ability to throw downfield (with a number of legitimate passing weapons) has allowed guys to come off the street and churn out rushing yards, maintaining offensive balance.
With an extra week to prepare for Cousins, we're banking on the Ravens making some adjustments to shore up the shoddy pass coverage while continuing to stifle the run. On the other side, we see the Ravens offense continue to hum — especially against a banged-up Minnesota defense that just gave up 325 yards and two TDs to Cooper Rush.
Week 7 was an aberration: this Ravens team is for real and we'll happily take them at home against a mediocre-at-best Vikings squad.
Over 49.5 (-110)
How bad has this Baltimore pass defense been this year? Per The Athletic, Baltimore has allowed three 400-yard passers in seven games this season... and had allowed just three 400+ yard passing games in the previous five seasons combined.
Even with some bye-week changes, Baltimore likely can't shut down an offense that features Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen — even if we get the so-so (aka standard) version of Cousins on Sunday.
On the flip side, the Vikings have struggled defensively on the road — giving up 27 to Cincinnati, 34 to Arizona, and 28 to Carolina (!?!) — and now face a Ravens offense that is looking to take out frustrations from Baltimore's previous loss... without their top defensive lineman and with a couple other D-line pieces injured.
The Over has cashed in five straight road games for the Vikes and seven of Baltimore's last nine home games. Expect plenty of points against this Sunday.
Tyler Conklin Over 32.5 receiving yards (-110)
We mentioned that the Ravens have struggled in pass coverage, well one particular area has been defending tight ends: Baltimore has given up an NFL-worst 77.9 receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends, including at least 46 receiving yards in five of those games.
Now, Minnesota TE Tyler Conklin isn't in the same class as Darren Waller, Travis Kelce, C.J. Uzomah, or even Mo Alie-Cox — but he has been getting opportunities and faces a low total this Sunday.
Conklin has received at least five targets in four of his previous five games and is averaging 48.2 yards per game over that stretch, but his receiving yards prop this Sunday sits at 32.5 yards.
With so much attention being paid to the likes of Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, Conklin should be able to get some one-on-one matchups and take advantage of a defense that has been more than accommodating to the position.