Thanks to our friends at The Crowd's Line, here is our prediction widget for this weekend's contest.
Just like everyone else, I'm expecting a very physical contest between these two teams. Defensively, these are two of the best teams in the NFL, and I don't anticipate there being a whole lot of scoring. (Apparently, the sharps in Vegas don't, either, as the over/under for this one has been set at 40).
The running backs in this game figure to be prominently featured, as Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley are both in the top 5 in the NFL in rushing thus far. Peterson's numbers against Chicago, on the surface, weren't that much better than what he had against Detroit the previous week, but he was much more consistent, and hopefully he can keep that consistency going this week. Gurley, on the other hand, has been just destroying teams since he was inserted into the lineup, and the Vikings will have their hands full slowing him down.
With two backs of that caliber, this one might end up coming down to the passing game. As we know, Teddy Bridgewater wasn't great against Chicago, but he was great when he needed to be, leading the Vikings to ten points in the final three minutes to pull out the win. On the other side, Nick Foles has had his moments as well. . .he has a similiar touchdown-to-interception ratio to Bridgewater, but four of his five interceptions on the season came in one game. However, he hasn't broken the 200-yard passing mark since Week 1, and only has multiple touchdown passes in one game this year. Bridgewater completes a significantly higher percentage of his passes than Foles does (64.5% for Bridgewater, 58.7% for Foles), but their yards/attempt figures are fairly similar, as are their quarterback ratings (85.5 for Bridgewater, 81.7 for Foles).
Defensively, it's tough to say that either team has an advantage, though the absence of Sharrif Floyd and Eric Kendricks definitely plays to the Rams' advantage. Mike Zimmer has gotten a lot of good play from the depth players on the squad when he's needed to, so hopefully there won't be a significant drop-off with Audie Cole starting in the middle for Minnesota.
This one's going to be a slugfest, I think. Gurley and Peterson are going to trade punches all afternoon, and. . .to keep the boxing analogy going. . .it's going to come down to who has the better cornerman. And even though Teddy Bridgewater has had his issues at times this year, I don't see a compelling reason to believe that he's going to get outplayed by Nick Foles. Being at home after a couple of tough divisional road contests should play to Minnesota's advantage as well.
I'll go Vikings 20, Rams 17 in what could be the best game of the weekend for Week 9 in the NFL.
Who do you have, ladies and gentlemen?