St. Louis Rams (5-7) at Minnesota Vikings (7-5)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Kenny Albert, Brian Baldinger
32nd regular-season meeting. The Vikings lead, 16-13-2, but the Rams have won the last three games in the series by a combined score of 137-83. That includes a 1999 playoff game, and all three of the games were in St. Louis. Prior to the three games, the Vikings had won six straight, including a 1988 playoff game. The last game played in Minnesota was a 1991 Vikings victory, 20-14.
Rams: offense 7th (26th rush, 2nd pass); defense 31st (30th rush, 28th pass).
Vikings: offense 25th (24th rush, 21st pass); defense 25th (18th rush, 23rd pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME
The Rams have a Catch-22 on offense in that defenses are often using eight men to attack RB Steven Jackson. But when St. Louis relies too much on its passing game, the offensive line has struggled to hold protection. The Rams desperately need to get Jackson involved early on to take pressure of rookie QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who regressed in his second appearance last Sunday.
The Vikings' defense has been improving weekly, but can still be vulnerable in the secondary if Fitzpatrick can get in sync with WRs Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.
Vikings coach Mike Tice has been happy with the progress of his running game, but it's the deep and suddenly healthy receiving corps that's causing defenses fits. St. Louis is beat up in the secondary and is also allowing 138.8 rushing yards per game, so any balance Minnesota's offense is able to create could prove fatal for the Rams.
Rams: Have outscored Minnesota 137-83 in the past four meetings. ... Jackson needs 131 rushing yards for team's first 1,000-yard season since Marshall Faulk (1,382 in 2001).
Vikings: Defeated the Rams in the NFC title game in 1974 and 1976 to reach the Super Bowl. ... QB Brad Johnson is 3-0 in his career against St. Louis.
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