EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings (7-7) have won two in a row to get back to .500 for the third time this season.
The rebalancing of the record reaped a temporary reward of waking up today in position to control their own destiny for a playoff spot.
Three more wins in three weeks would guarantee a postseason berth, but that's a tall order, beginning Sunday with the Los Angeles Rams (10-4), who prevailed at home over Seattle Tuesday. The Rams will visit U.S. Bank Stadium for the second time in a regular season. Kickoff is noon (CT).
Here's an Early Look at the Vikings Week 16 game against the Rams, presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Official LASIK partner of the Minnesota Vikings.
STAT OF THE WEEK
44 & 39 sacks recorded; 22 and 25 allowed
After D.J. Wonnum's three sacks of Chicago rookie Justin Fields, the Vikings have boosted their season total to an NFL-best 44.
The Rams defense ranks fifth in the NFL with 39.
Both teams' offenses have done well at preventing sacks. Minnesota has allowed 22, which ranks second in the NFL, and Los Angeles has allowed 25, which is tied for fourth.
Look back on images from past games between the Vikings and the Rams.
Kirk Cousins ranks fourth in the NFL this season with a passer rating of 101.9 (L.A.'s Matthew Stafford ranks second at 108.2).
Cousins has thrown at least two touchdown passes in seven consecutive games for the longest active streak in the NFL.
He also provided the sixth instance of an NFL player throwing at least two scores in 10 consecutive road games, joining Tom Brady (14 in a row from 2010-12), Peyton Manning (12 from 2013-14), Matt Ryan (11 from 2018-19), Brady (11 from 2003-04) and Brett Favre (11 from 2001-02).
Dalvin Cook ranks third in the NFL this season with 1,067 rushing yards.
He is the fourth Vikings player to record at least 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. Cook joined Adrian Peterson and Robert Smith (four consecutive seasons), as well as Chuck Foreman (three).
Justin Jefferson ranks second in the NFL with 1,335 receiving yards on the season, trailing only Rams receiver Cooper Kupp, who has 1,625.
Jefferson's career total is up to 2,735 receiving yards. He passed Randy Moss for the most by a Viking in his first two NFL seasons on Monday and needs 21 to break the record of 2,755 set by Odell Beckham, Jr., in his first two seasons with the Giants. Beckham joined the Rams earlier this season.
Dalvin Tomlinson's block of a Bears field goal was Minnesota's first since Nov. 29, 2020.
Sheldon Richardson recorded his 11th career forced fumble and sixth fumble recovery in one swoop at Soldier Field.
Cameron Dantzler recorded his second career forced fumble, which was the seventh recovered by Anthony Barr in the NFL.
KNOW THE FOE
Head Coach: Sean McVay, 5th season with Rams (53-25 in regular season, 3-3 in playoff games)
Matthew Stafford has delivered after leaving Detroit this offseason in a blockbuster trade. His 35 touchdown passes rank second, and his 4,142 passing yards are third in the NFL this season.
Cooper Kupp leads the NFL in receptions (122), receiving yards (1,625) and touchdowns (14).
Van Jefferson has added 702 yards and six scores on 43 receptions, helping make up for the loss of Robert Woods.
Darrell Henderson, Jr., has rushed for team highs of 671 yards and five scores on 148 carries. Sony Michel has added 597 yards and two touchdowns on 141 rushes.
Aaron Donald has 11 sacks, which are tied for eighth in the NFL and give him five consecutive seasons with double-digits.
Leonard Floyd has 9.0 sacks on the season. He is aiming for his second consecutive season with 10-plus since joining the Rams.
Jalen Ramsey and Taylor Rapp have each recorded three interceptions, and the Rams are tied for fifth among teams with 15 picks this season.
Matt Gay has made 28 of 29 field goals and 40 of 41 extra points. His 124 points scored this season rank second.
Vikings QB Sean Mannion was a third-round draft pick in 2015 by the Rams and served as the backup quarterback in the club's 2018 Super Bowl run.
WR Trishton Jackson spent the 2020 season with the Rams.
Rams rookie OLB Chris Garrett attended Concordia-St. Paul, and practice squad kicker Ryan Santoso kicked (2014-15) and punted (2016-17) for the University of Minnesota.
Five Vikings hail from the Los Angeles area: LB Anthony Barr (San Pedro, California), S Camryn Bynum (Corona), G Wyatt Davis (Bellflower), LB Troy Dye (Norco) and RB Alexander Mattison (San Bernardino).
FORMER PRO TEAMMATES
Rams Head Coach Sean McVay, Offensive Coordinator Kevin O'Connell and tight ends coach Wes Phillips all coached QB Kirk Cousins in Washington. McVay was primarily Cousins' offensive coordinator, while O'Connell was the quarterbacks coach in Cousins' last season in Washington in 2017.
Vikings DT Sheldon Richardson with Rams WR Odell Beckham, Jr., in Cleveland during the 2019-20 seasons; Richardson with Rams OL Austin Corbett in Cleveland in 2019
Vikings RB Wayne Gallman with Beckham, Jr., in New York from 2017-18
Minnesota LS Andrew DePaola with Rams OLB Leonard Floyd in Chicago in 2017
Vikings WR Dede Westbrook with Rams CB Jalen Ramsey in Jacksonville (2017-19)
Vikings LB Nick Vigil with Rams LT Andrew Whitworth on the Bengals in 2016
FORMER COLLEGE TEAMMATES
Vikings DT Dalvin Tomlinson and Rams DT A'Shawn Robinson at Alabama from 2013-15
Minnesota RB Dalvin Cook with Rams CB Jalen Ramsey at Florida State from 2014-15; the duo helped FSU win a National Championship in 2014
Vikings S Josh Metellus and OL Mason Cole with Rams CB David Long at Michigan from 2016-17
Minnesota RB Kene Nwangwu with Rams WR Landen Akers at Iowa State (2016-20)
Vikings WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Rams T Alaric Jackson at Iowa from 2017-20
Vikings LB Troy Dye and Rams LB Justin Hollins at Oregon from 2016-18
Minnesota QB Sean Mannion and Rams P Johnny Hekker at Oregon State in 2011
Minnesota QB Kellen Mond and Rams DL Bobby Brown III at Texas A&M
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.
VIKINGS TOP PERFORMERS VS. RAMS
Kirk Cousins: 3 games (2 starts with WAS, 1 with MIN), 2-1 as a starter (0-1 with MIN); 77-of-104 passing, 74.0 completion percentage, 804 passing yards, 5 TDs, 0 INT, 112.0 passer rating
Adam Thielen: 4 games (2 starts); 14 receptions, 258 yards, 2 TDs
Harrison Smith: 5 games; 15 tackles, 1 INT, career-long 81-yard interception return for TD, 1.0 sack
Patrick Peterson: 20 games (20 starts with Arizona); 68 tackles, 4 TFL, 7 INT, 3 total touchdowns (99- and 80-yard punt returns and 30-yard interception return)
(tackles are league stats)
VIKINGS BIG DAYS VS. RAMS
Cousins: 36-of-50 passing (72.0 percent), 422 yards (most by a Vikings QB in the series), 3 TDs, 0 INT, passer rating of 117.2 at L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Sept. 27, 2018
Thielen: 6 catches, 123 yards and 1 TD at U.S. Bank Stadium on Nov. 19, 2017, and 8 catches for 135 yards and 1 TD at L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Sept. 27, 2018
Smith: 81-yard interception return for a touchdown and a sack at St. Louis on Sept. 7, 2014
Peterson: 2 INT, including 30-yard return for TD in Arizona on Nov. 9, 2014
VIKINGS-RAMS SERIES NOTES
1. The Vikings have a 27-17-2 mark in 46 games against the Rams (includes 5-2 in postseason games).
2. The teams have previously met on Dec. 26 three times, with Minnesota claiming victory each time in the playoffs (1976 NFC Championship, 1977 Divisional, 1988 Wild Card).
3. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer recorded his first victory with Minnesota in a 34-6 win over the Rams in St. Louis during 2014 Kickoff Weekend.
Longest Vikings winning streak in series: 6 games (Sept. 20, 1987 – Sept. 13, 1998)
Longest Vikings losing streak in series: 4 games (Oct. 15, 1978 — Oct. 6, 1985)