Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He has temporarily returned to cover the Minnesota Vikings. He had the beat from 2008-2011 after covering college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
The Ravens hold a 7-3 lead over the Vikings at M&T Stadium in a winter (and sloppy) wonderland. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is questionable to return due to an ankle injury.
The good: Linebacker Chad Greenway had a solid half with an interception, pass deflection and a tackle for loss. It’s his third interception this season, matching a career-high. The defense held the Ravens to 103 total yards in the snowy conditions. Defensive end Brian Robison and Jared Allen each recorded a sack.
The bad: Running back Toby Gerhart fumbled in the first quarter that resulted in the only Ravens score in the half. Gerhart’s knee appeared down before the ball spilled out, but the officials stood by the initial call after review. The Ravens scored on a one-yard touchdown catch from tight end Ed Dickson on a four-play, 25-yard drive.
The ugly: Snow may be visually pleasing, but it’s not football weather. The conditions made for an ugly first half where both teams had a number of drops. Players kept slipping, forcing the grounds crew to use tractors to plow between the hashmarks. They’re also using shovels to remove snow on the five-yard markers and the goal line.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is questionable to return due to an ankle injury suffered in the second quarter.
Peterson injured his ankle when he was tackled on a third down catch with 11:27 left in the first half. He was helped off the field and eventually carted into the locker room. Peterson had X-rays according to the broadcast and walked on his own power inside the tunnel.
Peterson had seven carries for 13 yards in the snowy conditions. Toby Gerhart replaced Peterson at running back on the next series.
BALTIMORE -- Hello from snowy M&T Bank Stadium.
The field is covered with snow as players go through early warmups, making for a cool setting for today's game against the Ravens.
No surprises in the Vikings inactives: quarterback Christian Ponder, cornerback Josh Robinson, offensive guard Jeff Baca, tackle Mike Remmers, tight end Kyle Rudolph, wide receiver Rodney Smith and defensive tackle Chase Baker.
What would you rather do on a Sunday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?
CRAIG'S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Seahawks (11-1)
Why: Time for a math test. What do you get when add up the league’s No. 1 pass defense, a top-3 running game, a top-3 passer rating and the second-best turnover ratio? Answer: The best team in the league and soon-to-be No. 1 seed in the NFC.
2. Patriots (9-3); 3. Broncos (10-2); 4. Panthers (9-3); 5. 49ers (8-4); 6. Saints (9-3); 7. Eagles (7-5); 8. Bengals (8-4); 9. Lions (7-5); 10. Chiefs (9-3); 11. Cardinals (7-5); 12. Colts (8-4); 13. Dolphins (6-6); 14. Ravens (6-6); 15. Cowboys (7-5); 16. Giants (5-7); 17. Chargers (5-7); 18. Rams (5-7); 19. Jaguars (4-9); 20. Steelers (5-7); 21. Titans (5-7); 22. Raiders (4-8).
23. Vikings 3-8-1 (Last week: 28): Adrian Peterson is on pace for 1,611 yards rushing. He has 3,305 yards in his past 28 games, an average of 118 per game. The Vikings’ record in those 28 games: 13-14-1. That’s how important it is for the Vikings to find some consistent composure at the quarterback position.
24. Bears (6-6); 25. Jets (5-7); 26. Packers (5-6-1); 27. Falcons (3-9); 28. Buccaneers (3-9); 29. Redskins (3-9); 30. Bills (4-8); 31. Browns (4-8)
WORST OF THE BUNCH
32: Texans (2-11): Cleveland temporarily wrestled this spot away from Houston when it lost at home to the Jaguars last Sunday. But the Texans really stepped up by falling for the 11th straight game at Jacksonville on Thursday. Last Dec. 23, then-Texans coach Gary Kubiak was 12-2 heading into that day’s home game against the Vikings. His next 17 games: 3-14, including a loss to the Vikings. Kubiak’s slide ended with his firing on Friday.
Vikings plus-6 ½ at Ravens. The pick: Ravens 34, Vikings 24.
When you’re old enough to remember Bud Grant coaching pre-1985, it always feels strange saying the Vikings are at a disadvantage outdoors in cold weather. The Ravens aren’t the team that won last season’s Super Bowl. But they’re very good at home and they’re in the playoff chase.
Last week: Bears plus-1 at Vikings: The pick: Vikings 28, Bears 17. The final: Vikings 23, Bears 20 OT. Record: 7-4-1, 6-6 vs. the spread.
Chiefs minus-3 at Redskins. The pick: Redskins 28, Chiefs 23.
Why?: Kansas City’s 9-0 start has become a confidence-shaking 0-3 slide. The collars are probably getting a little snug in K.C.
Last week: Saints plus-4 ½ at Seahawks: The pick: Saints 38, Seahawks 35. The final: Seahawks 34, Saints 7. Record: 4-9.
Browns plus-11 ½ at Patriots: Patriots by 7.
Raiders plus-2 ½ at Jets: Jets by 3.
Colts plus-6 ½ at Bengals: Bengals by 7.
Panthers plus-3 at Saints: Saints by 7.
Lions plus-2 ½ at Eagles: Eagles by 7.
Dolphins plus-3 at Steelers: Steelers by 6.
Bills plus-2 ½ at Buccaneers: Buccaneers by 3.
Titans plus-12 at Broncos: Broncos by 14.
Rams plus-6 ½ at Cardinals: Cardinals by 3.
Giants plus-3 at Chargers: Chargers by 7.
Seahawks plus-2 ½ at 49ers: 49ers by 3.
Falcons plus-3 at Packers: Packers by 7.
Cowboys pick at Bears: Cowboys by 7.
Record: Last week: 8-5; 6-7 vs. the spread. Overall: 101-76-1; 79-94-4 vs. the spread.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder did not pass the NFL concussion protocol this week. He did not practice again on Friday and will be out of Sunday's contest against the Vikings.
Running back Adrian Peterson is listed as questionable (groin) after limited participation on Friday. Coach Leslie Frazier said Peterson wasn't running at full speed, but he was ramping up his activity for Sunday.
"No real need to burst or go 100 miles per hour today," Fraizer said. "But just something to make him feel comfortable about Sunday."
Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil (ankle) did not practice this week and listed as doubtful, but head coach John Harbaugh said he will be a game-time decision.
"Earlier in the week, we felt he was going to make it," Harbaugh said. "He’s not a guy that has to practice to play, so if he goes out there and feels like he can go, he will. If he doesn’t, he won't."
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