The Rams have a talented and deep defensive line. The Rams pass rush has the advantage of a home crowd in tonight’s game. And the Vikings are intent on drawing a better run-pass balance after their running backs combined for four carries in last week’s loss to Buffalo.
It all adds up to a greater emphasis on the running game for the Vikings offense.
With that being said, there’s reason to believe a quick passing game and a reliance on yards after the catch (YAC) could be key to offensive success for the Vikings. That talented Rams defensive front has only generated four sacks on the season, likely a product of opposing quarterbacks focusing on getting rid of the ball quickly to avoid Aaron Donald and Co. This puts pressure on the secondary to cover and tackle, and the Rams secondary has been up to the task because they’ve helped the defense hold opponents to 12.0 points per game, No. 1 in the NFL through the first three weeks.
That’s where the rub in this matchup comes into play, though. Both Rams starting cornerbacks – Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib – suffered injuries last week. Talib has been ruled out and Peters is questionable to play in this game with a calf injury. Even if Peters is able to play, the Rams reserve cornerbacks could be put in a position tonight to tackle well against Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
It’s a matchup that favors the Vikings on paper. But as everyone knows, football isn’t played on paper.
Elflein’s return is well-timed
The return of Pat Elflein to the starting lineup has been long-anticipated and it will happen tonight against the Rams. It’s a well-timed return because the Vikings may not face a better defensive tackle tandem all season than the one they’ll see tonight with Donald and Ndamukong Suh.
Tweet of the Week
It’s easy to look at 11 personnel as a passing-exclusive personnel grouping, but you can’t do that with the Rams because they have a three-down running back in Todd Gurley. If a defense automatically assumes a pass is coming against a Rams 11 personnel package, the danger is Gurley can take a handoff and be running into a sub package defense designed to focus on the pass. It’s important for the Vikings to stick with what head coach Mike Zimmer talks about each week – play the run first and earn the right to rush the passer on 2nd and 3rd down.
Stat of the Week
Danielle Hunter has recorded 1.0 sack in all three games to start the season, tying his career high for consecutive games with a sack
With Hunter’s bookending teammate – Everson Griffen – out for this game and possibly longer, it becomes even more important for the Vikings young star to continue his ascension as one of the League’s best pass rushers.
National TV: FOX
Play-by-Play: Joe Buck
Analyst: Troy Aikman
Sideline: Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink
National Radio: Westwood One
Play-by-Play: Kenny Albert
Analyst: Tony Boselli
Local Radio: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130
Play-by-Play: Paul Allen
Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline: Greg Coleman, Ben Leber
Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman – 5:00 pm CT