Week 15: Minnesota Vikings At St. Louis Rams
- QuarterbackThe Vikings have grown into a one-dimensional offense. The running ability of Adrian Peterson is dynamic, but quarterback Christian Ponder has to contribute something. He lacks arm strength, accuracy and confidence. In the Vikings’ Week 14 win over the Bears, Ponder completed 11-of-17 for 91 yards with an interception. That’s a recipe for a loss in most weeks.Sam Bradford may not be the most talented quarterback in the league, but he gets the most out of his ability. He is not going to overwhelm anyone with his arm strength or his ability to zip the ball in tight holes, but he excels at diagnosing an opponent’s weaknesses and then exploiting them. He can buy time with his feet and then get the ball to the open receiver.
- OffensePeterson is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL and he seems even stronger after coming back from ACL surgery than he was before he injured his knee last year. Peterson had over 100 yards rushing in the first quarter against the Bears in Week 14 and he finished the game with 154 yards. Now that Percy Harvin is done for the season, the Vikings will depend on Peterson even more than before.Steven Jackson is a solid back and has helped take a lot of pressure off of Bradford. It’s a good thing, because the Rams don’t have stellar receiving talent. However, wide receiver Brandon Gibson is improving and becoming dependable. He caught six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown in the Week 14 win over the Bills.
- DefenseThe Vikings play physical and athletic defense and they should be at their best on the artificial turf at the Edward Jones Dome. The key is the ability of defensive end Jared Allen, who has a quick first step and he can turn the corner with speed. He has a team-high 9.0 sacks. Linebacker Chad Greenway has a team-high 126 tackles.The Rams may not be able to match the Vikings in overall talent, but head coach Jeff Fisher has the Rams playing hard for 60 minutes. Defensive end Robert Quinn had a key sack in the win over the Bills and he is a solid pass rusher. Free safety Quintin Mikell is a solid all-around defender who can cover receivers and make hard-hitting tackles.
- Special TeamsThe Vikings have played effectively on special teams and that has been a big advantage for them this season. Punter Chris Kluwe has a strong leg and placekicker Blair Walsh has exceeded expectations, making 24-of-27 FG attempts this season.The Rams have a pair of super rookies handling the placekicking and punting chores, and Johnny Hekker and Greg Zuerlein should prove to be one of the most effective special teams duos in the league over the next decade.
The Vikings are coming off a huge win over the Bears and the Rams found a way to pick up a last-second road win over the Bills. Both teams are trying to make an improbable run at the final playoff spot in the NFC as they try to run down the struggling Chicago Bears. Give the Rams the edge since they are playing at home.