clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Rams at Vikings: Six Pack

New, comments

The Vikings are at 5-2, and hot on the heels of the Green Bay Packers. What do they need to do to move to 6-2 against a team with many similarities as the Vikings?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are on a roll, winning three games in a row. That's the first three game winning streak under second year coach Mike Zimmer, and it's the first time the Vikings have won at least three in a row since the end of 2012, where they won their last four regular season games to secure a wild card playoff berth and finish 10-6.

Their opponent this week, the St. Louis Rams, are team with a lot of similarities to the Vikings. After about a decade of mostly mediocre football, the Rams are starting to find success under Jeff Fisher, who's never won more than seven games in his four plus seasons as the Rams coach. But they find themselves 3-2, 4-3, winners of two straight, with a stout defense and strong running game. One of the 'prove it' things detractors of the Vikings and their 5-2 record is that they haven't beaten anybody with a winning record, and the Rams will be the toughest test yet this team has faced, save for their close week four loss at Denver.

So what do the Vikings need to do to beat the Rams, clear another hurdle that detractors are putting in front of them, and keep pace with Green Bay? Let's look at it.

Not getting Teddy Bridgewater murdered by the Rams defensive line is pretty important. I don't think it's a stretch to say that the Rams defensive line is the best the Vikings will face all year, and it's really not close. Aaron Donald, Chris Long, Michael Brockers, Nick Fairly, and Robert Quinn are all elite players, and each one of them is a player that you need to gameplan for. So imagine trying to do that for a line that's arguably the best in football. The only other line that comes close to the Rams, both in terms of talent and depth, is Denver, and Teddy damn near got killed by them. I don't know if the Vikings are going to go with a lot of two tight end sets, or petition the NFL to have 15 players on offense, with 11 of them on the line, but yeah, they need to find a way to give Bridgewater a clean pocket and time to throw. If there's anything positive in all of this, it's that the offensive line played about as well as they have all season last week against Chicago, and they'll be at home. Also, good luck gentlemen. You're going to need it. But yeah, if Teddy isn't pulverized, then they'll be able to...

Feed the growing monster that is Stefon Diggs. Diggs has turned into the deep threat Mike Wallace was supposed to be, and he proved last week that he can take any pass pattern, make a guy miss, and turn it into six points. Although Adrian Peterson had over 100 yards rushing against the Bears, the Vikings offense didn't start moving until Bridgewater started finding Diggs. I'm not saying the offense is going through Diggs just yet, because Peterson is still a premiere back, and a critical component to the offense. I am saying that Diggs is a catalyst to help make everything move, and with as good as the Rams defense is, Minnesota will need to find balance early to be effective. The other key component to that balance is...

Adrian Peterson running effectively. If Peterson gets over 100 yards, that's cool and all, but the thing that really matters is making sure the Vikings offense is in manageable down and distance situations. 2nd and 10 or 3rd and 8, or a situation where the Vikings are penalized and they're looking at a 1st and 15 or 1st and 20 will play right into the strength of the Rams defense--that ferocious line. A 2nd and 5 or 3rd and 3 gives the Vikings the full playbook,  and it will allow the Vikings offense to play to their strength, which is either running the ball with Peterson, or incorporating play action. Keeping the Rams on their heels as much as possible gives the Vikings the ability to control the clock, drive the field, and score. Hey, speaking of scoring, I think I mention this every week, but...

Scoring touchdowns in the red zone is really cool. Let's do that. This is pretty simple--the Rams have one of the best defenses in the NFL. They're 4th in scoring defense, and 9th in yards given up in both passing and rushing. Scoring opportunities aren't going to be plentiful, so when they do get into the red zone, for the love of all that is good, right, and holy, you cannot settle for a field goal. You have to score touchdowns, simply have to. If they can get a double digit lead, the Rams will have to go away from Todd Gurley, which is good, because...

Stopping Todd Gurley is objective number one for the defense. The Rams passing offense is ranked 32nd in the NFL, largely because in the last four games, Gurley has rushed for 146, 159, 128, and 133 yards. He's quickly climbing the ranks of being considered the best running back in the game, and with the Rams countering Gurley with the 32nd ranked offense in the NFL, if the Vikes defense can largely neutralize Gurley and the Rams running game, they're going to have a great chance to win. The last thing they'll need to do is...

Make the Rams turn the ball over and win the battle of field position. Finally, the Vikings are the number two scoring defense in the NFL, and the Rams are the number four scoring defense. Points will be at a premium in this game, and the best chance for the Vikings to win is to play on a shorter field than the Rams. Whoever wins the turnover battle usually wins the game, and I don't see either offense driving the length of the field repeatedly and this turning into a New Or[EFF THOSE GUYS]--Giants shootout from a week ago.