Originally published by RamsNewswire.com
The Los Angeles Rams are getting healthy and rounding into form at the right time, and they now look to extend their winning streak to four games when they hit the road and take on a frisky Minnesota Vikings team in Week 16.
Nearly every game the Vikings have played have come down to the wire, but hopefully that’s not the case for the Rams who have been playing excellent complementary football. Minnesota is still in the hunt for a Wild Card spot while Los Angeles has a chance to take control of the NFC West with another win.
Also, the Rams will clinch a playoff berth with a win, which would mark the fourth time in Sean McVay’s five years that they make the postseason.
Rams Offense vs. Vikings Defense
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic did a number on the Los Angeles roster as they had 30 members at point placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. However, most of the players have been cleared and will make their return to the field, including tight end Tyler Higbee and starting right tackle Rob Havenstein.
Having both back should help the Rams running game where Sony Michel figures to once again handle the bulk of the work after another strong showing in Week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks. Darrell Henderson should be worked in to spell Michel, but he latter has clearly proven he deserve to handle the lion’s share of snaps.
Fortunately for the Rams, they play a Vikings team that is one of the worst pass defenses in the league, which means Cooper Kupp is in line to continue his historic stretch. Kupp broke the franchise’s single-season record for receptions and should be busy against a woeful Minnesota secondary.
Aside from Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr. and Van Jefferson should see more targets from Matthew Stafford given that the Vikings should be better at keeping pace on the scoreboard than the Seahawks were.
Unfortunately, the Rams received some bad news the day before the game as Andrew Whitworth was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list so he won’t be able to play.
Rams Defense vs. Vikings Offense
The Rams got back Von Miller last week, which will help against a Vikings offensive line that has done well in both run and pass-blocking. However, Minnesota was dealt a blow when it was announced Dalvin Cook will miss the game after testing positive for COVID-19.
Even with Cook out, the Rams will need to be wary of Alexander Mattison, who is a capable backup and has the same running and receiving skillset that Cook has.
While Los Angeles should fare well against the Minnesota backfield, the defensive gameplan must revolve around limiting the passing attack as Kirk Cousins has one of the most dynamic receiving corps in the NFL. Justin Jefferson continues to establish himself as one of the best receivers in the game today, while Adam Thielen is expected to make his return from a high ankle sprain.
Jefferson and Thielen make for one dangerous one-two punch, so the Rams secondary will need to be cautious of both on every passing down.
Keys To Victory
1. Matthew Stafford slinging it against the Vikings secondary
As mentioned earlier, the Vikings secondary is one of the worst groups in the league which is trouble for them as Stafford has recaptured his early-season form throwing the football. After a troublesome November, Stafford has done a much better job taking care of the football and with his full allotment of receivers available he should be able to dominate the game through the air.
2. Jalen Ramsey versus Justin Jefferson
Jalen Ramsey had himself a day against Seattle where he was able to basically neutralize D.K Metcalf, and he gets another marquee matchup against Jefferson. While not the same physical specimen as Metcalf, Jefferson has a knack for getting open due to his superior route running which means defensive coordinator Raheem Morris might have no choice but to shadow him using Ramsey.
Earlier this season, Jefferson admitted he had the game against the Rams circled because of Ramsey and now fans will get to see whether or not that was a mistake.
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