BALTIMORE — Sunday brings the arrival of December football as the Ravens welcome the Minnesota Vikings to town for what figures to be a wintry mess at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday afternoon.
A win puts the Ravens above the .500 mark for the first time since early October and keeps them in position as the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff picture. Needless to say with an imposing three-game stretch against projected playoff times to conclude the regular season, the Ravens have little margin for error against the 3-8-1 Vikings, who haven’t won a road game all year.
The Ravens will welcome the return of tight end Dennis Pitta, who was activated from injured reserve-designated to return on Saturday. Pitta wasn’t expected to play extensively against Minnesota, but the Ravens also elected to list Dallas Clark as inactive, which is a good indication that they feel comfortable with Pitta handling a bigger workload. His presence on third down and inside the red zone will provide a major boost to the Baltimore passing game in the final quarter of the season.
While Pitta returns to action in Week 14, outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil is officially out with a left ankle injury suffered in last week’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coach John Harbaugh was optimistic earlier in the week that Dumervil would be ready to go, but he was unable to practice all week and listed as doubtful on the final injury report.
Dumervil’s absence will lead to an increased role for second-year linebacker Courtney Upshaw, who was already likely to see extensive snaps with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and the ground attack figuring to be featured extensively by Minnesota. Reserve pass-rush specialist Pernell McPhee could see more opportunities in passing situations with Dumervil sidelined.
Wide receiver Brandon Stokley is active despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report with a knee injury suffered against Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving night.
For the Vikings, Peterson is active and will start despite being listed as questionable with a groin issue.
As predicted, weather will be a significant factor in Sunday’s game as snow began collecting on the turf more than two hours prior to kickoff. Forecasts are calling for up to a few inches of snow with precipitation switching to sleet and freezing rain later in the day.
The all-time series between the Ravens and Vikings is tied 2-2 with Minnesota winning the last meeting in 2009. The Ravens are 2-1 against them at M&T Bank Stadium.
The referee for Sunday’s game will be Pete Morelli.
The Ravens will be wearing purple jerseys with black pants while Minnesota dons white jerseys with purple pants.
Here are Sunday’s inactives:
LB Elvis Dumervil
TE Dallas Clark
DT Brandon Williams
WR Deonte Thompson
S Omar Brown
S Brynden Trawick
C Ryan Jensen
CB Josh Robinson
DT Chase Baker
G Jeff Baca
TE Kyle Rudolph
QB Christian Ponder
WR Rodney Smith
T Mike Remmers
Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium throughout the night.