A pair of on-fire teams will be going head-to-head when the Minnesota Vikings host the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Minnesota has won five in a row, as it kept up the pace following a bye week with a victory over Washington. The Rams are coming off consecutive wins over Jacksonville, Arizona, the Giants, and Houston.
Not looking ahead
Los Angeles maintained its fine form and kept its impressive season going with a 33-7 rout of Houston in Week 10. That marked the sixth time in 2017–and third in a row–that the Rams have scored at least 33 points in a game. With a surprising 7-2 record, Los Angeles should be able to start thinking about the playoffs and perhaps even a first-round bye. Beyond that, could the team be thinking about the Super Bowl? If that becomes a reality, the Rams would make a return trip to Minnesota–which is hosting February’s festivities. Predictably, head coach Sean McVay is sticking to his one-game mantra.
“If we don’t get to our eighth win (on Sunday), then nothing else really matters,” McVay explained. “And that’s what’s important for us right now.”
“It’s a good challenge for us to see where we are as a team,” running back Todd Gurley said of facing the Vikings. “We want to be in the playoffs and right now if we keep doing what we’re doing, we will.… Whether you’re playing the worst team or the best team, you have to bring it each week, because you never know what might happen.”
Making a Case to keep playing
With quarterback Sam Bradford once again out for the season, fellow oft-injured signal-caller Teddy Bridgewater is back with the Vikings. Although Bridgewater has finally been activated, he may never see the field this season. That’s because Case Keenum has been a pleasant surprise under center for the Vikings. Since taking over for Bradford, Keenum has 11 touchdown passes and five interceptions while completing more than 64 percent of his passes in eight outings. The former Houston Cougar has thrown at least one interception in four straight games (two during last week’s 38-30 victory over Washington), but he has also tossed six TDs in the last two (four against the Redskins).
“Every situation I’ve been in has prepared me for the next one,” Keenum commented. “That’s what experience is about and how you learn from your mistakes. For me, I compartmentalize [the situation with Bridgewater being available to play]. I’m here to do my job and that’s to put this team in the best possible situation to win every week. Was I perfect today? No. But I think we did a good job.”
The Los Angeles Rams are:
- 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 games against the NFC
- 8-17-1 ATS in their last 26 games on fieldturf
- 0-4 ATS in their last four games against Minnesota
The Minnesota Vikings are:
- 37-15 ATS in their last 52 overall
- 21-6 ATS in their last 27 home games
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven games against the NFC
By all indications, Keenum will continue to be the starter in Minnesota. And why not? The Vikings have won five in a row and Keenum has kept the offense more than respectable. Los Angeles is 3-10-1 ATS in its last 14 against the NFC and 8-17-1 ATS in its last 26 on fieldturf. The Vikings are 37-15 ATS in their last 52 overall, 21-6 ATS in their last 27 at home, 10-1 ATS in their last 11 at home against opponents with winning road records, 5-2 ATS in their last seven against the NFC, 20-7 ATS in their last 27 following a win, and 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings between the two teams. Expect those trends to continue.
Pick: Minnesota Vikings -2.5
As solid as Keenum has been, no one is going to make people forget that it is Minnesota’s defense that truly runs the show. The Vikings are fifth in the NFL in total defense (294.6 ypg) and in scoring defense (18.3 ppg). No opponent had reached the 20-point mark against Minnesota until Washington went for 30 last week. The under is 9-3 in the Rams’ last 12 against winning opponents, 11-4 in their last 15 on fieldturf, 6-2 in their last eight in November, and 13-6 in their last 19 following a win. It is also 19-7 in the Vikings’ last 26 against winning opponents, 5-1 in their last six at home against opponents with winning road records, 9-4 in their last 13 following a win, and 9-4 in their last 13 after allowing less than 90 rushing yards in their previous outing. Look for this one to stay under the total.