EAGAN, Minn. – Justin Jefferson ranks second in the NFL this season with 1,335 receiving yards, an impressive total, especially with three games to play, but Cooper Kupp has even more production.
The Rams receiver leads the NFL with 1,625 yards, 122 receptions and 14 touchdowns.
The two will have an opportunity to showcase their route running and ball skills when Minnesota (7-7) hosts Los Angeles (10-4) at noon (CT) Sunday.
Jefferson, who was announced to his second Pro Bowl in as many opportunities on Monday, and Kupp (announced Wednesday) could be teammates at the all-star game in February, but that's pretty far from thought this week with both of their teams currently in line for a postseason berth.
Prior to speaking with media members Thursday, Jefferson was named as this year's winner of the Korey Stringer Good Guy Award, which was created in honor of the late Vikings right tackle who tragically passed away 20 years ago.
Jefferson said he expects to see a good bit of shadow coverage from Rams five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
"I'm excited. I feel like I live for these moments, ever since I was a kid. Just going up against that top guy, I'm a natural competitor," Jefferson said. "I've been a competitor since I was playing in the backyard with my family. I'm ready for the game, I've been having it circled for a long time. To me, it's a statement game, considering myself one of the top receivers in the league and solidifying myself. Definitely ready for it."
Offensive Coordinator Klint Kubiak said Ramsey is "an elite player."
"Justin's playing really well, and that will be a very important matchup," Kubiak added. "Jalen plays in the slot, he plays outside, he's a really versatile player, so he'll line up a little bit everywhere."
As for Kupp, Co-Defensive Coordinator Adam Zimmer and cornerback Patrick Peterson both said Rams Head Coach Sean McVay finds creative ways to get him the ball.
"They'll put him in motion, put him in the backfield, they'll line him up in stack positions so he can get a free release," Zimmer said. "Coach McVay and that staff are a really good staff, and they know how to scheme to get guys open and have done a great job with Kupp."
Peterson has played the Rams 20 times previously with the Cardinals and has recorded seven of his 28 career interceptions, including a 30-yard pick-six against the team he's previously played in St. Louis, Arizona and Los Angeles.
"Cooper does a great job of understanding how to attack DBs' leverages and make you think he's going one way and end up going the opposite," Peterson said. "We know we have our hands full. With three weeks left he's got 120-some odd receptions and that's a very high clip, especially with three games remaining in the season."
Here are all the ways to catch the action, a synopsis of the series history and a key topic addressed this week by Kubiak, Zimmer, Assistant Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator Andre Patterson and Special Teams Coordinator Ryan Ficken.
TV: FOX (KMSP FOX 9 in the Twin Cities)
Kickoff: Noon (CT)
Play-by-Play: Adam Amin
Analyst: Mark Schlereth
Sideline: Shannon Spake
Fans who live in the red areas shown on the map from 506sports.com will be able to watch the game on their iOS mobile devices with the Vikings app or Vikings mobile site (Safari browser only). The Yahoo! Sports app for smartphones and tablets offers another method for viewing live local and prime-time NFL games.
Radio: KFAN (100.3-FM), KTLK (1130-AM) and the five-state Vikings Radio Network
Radio Pregame Show: Hosted by Mike Mussman (10 a.m.)
Play-by-Play: Paul Allen
Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline reporters: Greg Coleman and Ben Leber
Los Angeles: Sirius 121, XM 387, SXM App 818
Minnesota: Sirius 135, XM 231, SXM App 820
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Look back on images from past games between the Vikings and the Rams.
The Vikings have a 27-17-2 record against the Rams (includes a 5-2 mark in postseason games), a series that began in 1961.
Sunday will be the fourth time the Vikings and Rams have met on Dec. 26. The first three games all were NFC Playoff Games won by Minnesota.
1976 NFC Championship | Vikings 24, Rams 13 | Metropolitan Stadium
Bobby Bryant returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for a touchdown for the first points of the game and recorded two interceptions.
1977 Divisional Round | Vikings 14, Rams 7 | L.A. Memorial Coliseum
Minnesota's defense shut out Los Angeles for the game's first 59 minutes. Nate Allen, Paul Krause and Jeff Wright recorded interceptions during a rainstorm that led to "The Mud Bowl" becoming the nickname for this game.
1988 Wild Card | Vikings 28, Rams 17 | Metrodome
Alfred Anderson rushed for two touchdowns (7 yards and 1 yard), Joey Browner recorded two interceptions and Scott Studwell snagged another.
View photos of Vikings players from practice on Dec. 23 at the TCO Performance Center.
Kubiak on Kene Nwangwu's progress at running back:
"He gets better and better every week, the more comfortable that he gets. He's working really hard at it. You saw some explosive runs there last week. Very capable back with a lot of potential. We've just got to keep repping him, keep getting him better. The easy thing is that he's so coachable and so eager to better himself."
Note: With Dalvin Cook ruled out (Reserve/COVID-19), Alexander Mattison is eligible to return, and Nwangwu is likely to back up Mattison.
Patterson on Wonnum's big game against the Bears and his development:
"I think he's getting better every week. Again, to go back to what I always say, it takes time. It's a process. Especially when you bring guys in who are not high draft picks. They have to learn how to play like a professional, in the run game and pass-rush wise. I could see it coming with D.J., week after week. And the funny thing about it, before the game I told him, 'You're gonna have a big day today.' I could feel it. Just from watching him play and watching him practice. And after he got the second one, I pulled him over and said, 'Go get me one more. Go get one more. It'll put your name on the map if you get you one more.' And he got it. So I just think it's the beginning for him. He's hungry. This won't go to his head. He'll just continue to grind and get better. That's what you want to see."
Zimmer on the way the Vikings responded to Eric Kendricks' ejection at Chicago:
"Well it's definitely hard when you lose one of your best defensive players. It was surprising to me when it happened. That's the way the game has become now. We just have to do the best we can to try and avoid that contact. It is what it is. Fortunately for us, we have a guy in Nick Vigil that is really reliable, a true pro. He can step in there at any position we have and be productive. He really did nice job in the game — pressured the quarterback, got his hand on the football. I think he did a really nice job."
Ficken on Dalvin Tomlinson's field goal block:
"It was a great momentum boost for us at the end of the half. It could have been some points right there and changed the math of the game with the way they go for it on fourth down later. It was great, in terms of Tomlinson and [Armon] Watts getting the push, got the pad level low, got some movement on that guy. … you've got to get that movement, but you've got to get your hands up. You're not going to be able to block anything with your hands down, so he the hands up, got the big paw on it and was able to get a deflection on it, but it all starts with getting a great get-off and getting movement on those guys. They're doing a great job all year. I've always told them it's just a matter of time before we actually get one. I was happy for our team and happy for Dalvin and the whole unit. It worked out well for us."