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NFL Spotlight Week 17

Tonight

January 07, 2002|Roy Jurgens

Minnesota (5-10) at Baltimore (9-6) 6 p.m., channel 7

The line: Baltimore by 121/2

Story line: Add it up; Korey Stringer's death, Randy Moss's immature antics, Cris Carter's mutiny, Dennis Green's firing, the departure of five Pro Bowl players in two years, this Viking season has played out like a Greek tragedy. Baltimore hasn't had an easy time of it either, having to overcome numerous crippling injuries while in defense of their Super Bowl title. The Ravens need to win tonight to make the playoffs.

Keys to the game: With third stringer Spergon Wynn getting the start at quarterback, Minnesota's passing options are limited. Wynn should spread out the secondary by going deep to Moss, putting Carter in single coverage along the sideline where he can move the chains. Rookie running back Michael Bennett could take some of the pressure off Wynn with another 100-yard performance like the one he had against Green Bay last Sunday. A large part of Baltimore's offense lies in the hands of a couple of ex-Vikings, Terry Allen and Qadry Ismail. Allen should have little trouble rushing against Minnesota's undersized front seven. Elvis Grbac should concentrate on getting Shannon Sharpe the ball over the middle, putting Minnesota's cornerbacks on an island against Ismail and Travis Taylor.

The pick: Baltimore. While the Vikings haven't played with any pride in weeks, interim coach Mike Tice might inspire them to at least show up for this game. The Vikings have lost 10 consecutive road games dating back to a victory at Dallas on Thanksgiving last season.

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