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Notebook: Rhodes, Vikings Approaching Sunday's Matchup Like Any Other Game

Posted Nov 17, 2017

The Vikings aren’t worried about the storylines heading in to Sunday’s game against the Rams.

They’re not focused on sharing a 7-2 record or on Case Keenum facing his former team. Rather, the contest is simply one more game the Vikings need to win to keep marching toward their goal.

Xavier Rhodes told media members Friday that it’s “just a regular game” and that’s how the team is approaching it.

“We want to win. We view every game as important,” Rhodes said.

“We look at each and every game as a game that’s getting in our way of getting to the Super Bowl, basically, or going to the playoffs,” Rhodes added. “So if we lose this game, you know, the NFC right now is so tight [that if] anybody loses, they can be fourth or fifth. So we’re trying to stay on top, trying to stay where we’re at now, trying to stay in the race to the playoffs.”

Rhodes is aware, however, that he’s prepping to face a Rams offense that went from last in scoring last season to leading the league with 32.9 points per game.

The cornerback said Los Angeles is “blowing things out of the water” and firing on all cylinders.

“Those guys are looking good on offense,” Rhodes said. “They’re clicking, their receivers are catching the ball, they’re getting open for the quarterback, making the throws easy for him.”

Second-year quarterback Jared Goff so far this season is 172-of-281 passing for 2,385 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating is 101.5.

“[He’s making] smart decisions, he’s not forcing anything, he’s playing the checkdowns if it’s not there,” Rhodes said of Goff. “His offense is clicking.”

The Vikings will likely see a committee of Rams receivers on Sunday, including Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, who recently has had some big performances. When asked specifically if he would prefer to face a team with one elite receiver or a roster of several “pretty good” receivers, Rhodes said that he has to respect everyone at the NFL level.

I was just talking to a few guys, each and every week it’s like, I put it in college terms, each and every week you’re facing an Alabama or a Florida State. Top-tier guys,” Rhodes said. “In the NFL, you’re facing guys at the top of their game and fighting for a job. So they’re going to be on their ‘A’ game each and every week, no matter if the name is there or not.

“You never know a game they’re going to break out in or have a good game and start from there,” Rhodes continued. “You just don’t want it to happen [against] you. So at the end of the day, you just have to take each and every week as serious as if you’re playing Julio Jones or Antonio Brown.”

 

Diggs on Vikings offense, Rams defense

Stefon Diggs sees a lot of good in Minnesota’s offense, and he wants to keep it rolling.

The wide receiver spoke with Twin Cities media members Thursday afternoon and said it’s important to stay focused and not get caught up in the success of a five-game win streak.

“I feel like we’re playing some solid ball,” Diggs said. “We’ve just got a new week, we have to prepare the right way.”

Diggs is anticipating a talented Rams defense at U.S. Bank Stadium. He said the unit’s strongest asset is being able to create turnovers. Los Angeles is currently second in the NFL with 12 interceptions this season and are tied for fifth with 11 forced fumbles.

“Tipped balls, fumbles, things all around the board,” Diggs said. “They find a way to get around the ball, so we’re going to have to be on our Ps and Qs, staying smart.

“They’ve got some great guys in their back end, some great guys up front,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be another test for us.” 

Diggs will be catching passes from Keenum, who was announced by Vikings Head Coach Zimmer as the starter earlier this week. Diggs said one of the quarterback’s strong points is being able to “just make it happen” on plays where he’s facing pressure.

“He finds a way, especially back there when he gets to running around a little bit, keeps his eyes downfield. He just creates some things, you know?” Diggs said. “As a receiver, we just try to get open and stay open. Try to keep on the same page as him and be in the right place at the right time for him because he’s going to trust you to make the play – you just have to be there.”

The Vikings will have a quick turnaround following Sunday’s game, as they will prepare to travel to Detroit for a Thanksgiving Day matchup.

Despite the short week, Diggs said the team is being careful to keep its sights on Sunday’s game alone.

We try not to look at next week at all, to be honest with you, because we have to focus on [this weekend],” Diggs said. “So we worry about this week and then once this game is over, we’ll refocus in the short week and get to the grind.”

Vikings preparing for Rams no-huddle offense

In his Friday session with media, Zimmer again implored Vikings fans to make plenty of noise at U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday.

“[The Rams offense is] no huddle, they get on the ball, snap it,” Zimmer said. “Got to try and confuse them as much as possible. It will be a great test for our football team. They’re excellent on really all three phases.”

Zimmer explained that a team’s offense needs to be on its toes when facing the 7-2 Los Angeles squad.

“They’ve drawn a lot of people offsides,” Zimmer said. “We’re going to have to be smart about it, hopefully the crowd will help us.

“Should be a heck of a football game, and we’re ready to roll,” Zimmer added.