The Vikings should have little trouble with the Rams (0-4) - St. Louis is averaging an embarrassing six points a game — but there is precedent for Minnesota having trouble against bad teams. At least early in games.
The Vikings trailed both Cleveland (0-4) and Detroit (1-3) at halftime in the opening two games of the season before rebounding with big second halves. You can bet Brad Childress is going to want his team to put together a complete 60 minutes against St. Louis.
Minnesota gave up 384 yards passing against the Packers' Aaron Rodgers on Monday night but shouldn't have the same trouble with a Rams offense that is ranked 30th in the league in passing.
The Vikings' big priority on defense will be slowing Rams running back Steven Jackson, who is averaging 4.4 yards per carry and is tied for fourth in the NFL with 367 yards on the ground.
Defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams are two of the best in the business and are going to have to be stout at the line of scrimmage.
The Rams have struggled to stop both the run (24th in the NFL) and pass (19th) so this could be a big game for either Adrian Peterson or quarterback Brett Favre and his wide receivers.
Favre appears to be getting on the same page with his receivers so he could be dangerous.
Somehow, the Rams have to show they can pass to keep the defense from stacking eight and nine in the box to stop RB Steven Jackson. Rams quarterbacks have been sacked 10 times in four games, and the Vikings had eight against Green Bay.
Defensively, the challenge is to control RB Adrian Peterson while not leaving themselves vulnerable to the passing of QB Brett Favre.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, who is second in the NFL in rushing, vs. Rams MLB James Laurinaitis, who is tied for 11th in the NFL with 34 tackles. Peterson hasn't had a 100-yard rushing game since Week 1 but continues to poise a huge threat out of the backfield and will be a primary assignment of Laurinaitis'. Laurinaitis, who played high school football in Wayzata, Minn., knows exactly how dangerous Peterson can be and also knows Peterson is going to be looking to add a substantial amount to his rushing total.
Vikings DLE Jared Allen, who had 4.5 sacks on Monday against the Packers, vs. Rams LT Alex Barron, who was benched in a 35-0 loss to San Francisco on Sunday. Allen is coming off a monster game against Green Bay in which the Pro Bowl defensive end abused substitute left tackle Daryn Colledge, who was filling in for the injured Chad Clifton. Allen could be in for another huge day against Barron, who was pulled after a second-quarter penalty and replaced by John Greco. Barron is expected to be back as the starter which makes sense given that Greco had never played tackle in an NFL game before Sunday.
Vikings RT Phil Loadholt, a rookie who has started all four games this season, vs. Rams DRE Leonard Little, who has 84 career sacks in 12 seasons. Loadholt and his linemates did not give up a sack on Monday for the first time this season, but Little figures to be a tough test because of his veteran savvy. Little leads the Rams with three sacks this season and will bring plenty of pressure on Loadholt, who is still working to improve his pass-protection techniques. Loadholt is better at this point in run blocking.
Rams interior line of LG Jacob Bell, C Jason Brown and RG Richie Incognito vs. Vikings DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. RB Steven Jackson rushed for 142 yards against the Vikings in the final game of the 2006 season, the only time in the last 28 games the Vikings have allowed a runner to gain 100 yards. For Jackson to get even close to 100, the interior line will have to handle Minnesota's tackles.
Vikings-Rams game plan
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