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Expert Picks: Vikings Underdogs at Rams in Tonight’s Game

The Vikings are back on the field tonight.

Minnesota takes on the Los Angeles Rams who have won their first three games by double digits.

The Rams defeated the Chargers 35-23 at home on Sunday behind 354 passing yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Jared Goff.

Running back Todd Gurley rushed for 105 yards and a score in that game and remains one of the league’s top threats in the backfield.

Let’s see what is expected from the Vikings in their Week 4 matchup on a short turnaround:

Rams 24, Vikings 20 - Elliot Harrison, NFL.com

The Vikings' primary mission -- their only mission -- should be figuring out better ways to protect Kirk Cousins. The offensive line was whipped at the point of the attack in Week 3's stunning loss to the Bills. If Minnesota can provide Cousins time, the quarterback paid in gold bullion should find easier pickins', thanks to injuries in the Los Angeles secondary. Would feel differently about the outcome of this game if it were in Minneapolis. And I bet you two fish tacos the Rams will make the Vikes wear that dark purple in the Southern California heat. Not good. Also not good: If Dalvin Cook is not at full bore for Minnesota (though the running back has practiced this week). More impressive than good: Jared Goff's accuracy on intermediate throws.

Rams 34, Vikings 28 - David Steele, Sporting News

The true fruits of Fox buying into Thursday nights are borne this week. A pair of NFC Super Bowl favorites — likely expected to be an NFC title-game preview when they drew this up — get the first over-the-air spotlight, in front of Joe and Troy. Worth it, too, with the Rams one of the last three unbeaten teams and the NFL’s third highest-scoring team … and with the Vikings still sitting on bags of ice after the butt-kicking administered by the Bills. Jared Goff vs. Kirk Cousins qualifies as a top-notch quarterback matchup … except they’re facing loaded defenses. The Vikings’ defense has been the most vulnerable so far; if they’re going to get straightened out, this is the week to do it.

Rams 30, Vikings 20 - Bleacher Report Staff

While little has been assured this season, the Los Angeles Rams are one of three teams that have gone 3-0 straight-up and against the spread. At home against a traveling, downtrodden and short-handed Minnesota Vikings team on short rest, our crew is confident L.A. will make that 4-0 in both respects Thursday night.

You'll find the Rams laying seven points in some spots, but 6.5 is the prevailing number. And our analysts believe that's a steal.

Davenport was quick to cite an astute observation from John Breech of CBS Sports, who notes that "no team flying from the Central time zone to the Pacific time zone for a Thursday game has ever won or covered a game over the past 12 years."

That's almost unbelievable, but it's true. The Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears are a combined 0-5 on the West Coast on Thursday nights.

"After what happened in Minneapolis last week," Davenport added, "I'm not about to count on these Vikings to buck that trend."

What happened in Minneapolis last week? For those who blacked out from utter shock, the Vikings became the first team in NFL history to lose by more than two scores as a favorite of more than two scores. And while that disaster against the Buffalo Bills might have been an anomaly, this isn't the time or place for a bounce-back performance.

Minnesota is dealing with injuries to key offensive pieces Dalvin Cook and Riley Reiff, and it won't have star pass-rusher Everson Griffen as his mental health is being evaluated.

Rams 30, Vikings 20 - Ryan Wilson – CBS Sports

The Bills, more than two-touchdown underdogs last week in Minnesota, had played some of the worst football known to man in their first two games of the season, had a man retire at halftime in Week 2, and absolutely no one thought they had a chance on the road against the defending NFC North champs. So, naturally, they jumped out to a 27-0 lead, Kirk Cousins looked like a complete fraud for most of the first half, and rookie Josh Allen got the win in his very first road start. This is all a long way of saying: The NFL is crazy. That said, even if the Vikings had trounced the Bills like everyone suspected, it wouldn't have changed anyone's opinion about their chances in Los Angeles. The Rams are the league's best team and it's not even close. Yes, they do have injuries to Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, but have you seen what the Chiefs, the league's second-best team with the worst defense, have been doing to fools? The Rams' offense is damn-near unstoppable and the loss of two key defensive players won't change that.

Rams 24, Vikings 21 - Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

The Vikings were awful against the Bills, so the focus should be good on a short week. The Rams are flying high on offense, but they have some issues on defense this week with both corners out with injuries. That will help the Vikings keep it close.

You don’t go from losing to the Bills at home one day to beating the Rams on the road four days later.

Rams 30, Vikings 20 - Mike Florio Pro Football Talk

The Rams are too good, the Vikings are too distracted, and the season is too short for Minnesota to dig out of an early hole that is destined to entail a 1-3-1 start.

Pre-game win probabilities: Vikings 35 percent, FiveThirtyEight

1 of 9 experts picked the Vikings, SB Nation

0 of 8 experts picked the Vikings, CBS Sports

1 of 11 experts picked the Vikings, ESPN

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