I guess not. Breakdown of a game we probably shouldn't watch after the fold.
St. Louis Rams, 0-4 4th - NFC West
Minnesota Vikings, 4-0, 1st - NFC North
STL pass - 64/123, 52% (31st), 139.5 yds/gm (30th), 3 TD, 2 int (t-22nd), 67.5 rat,
-18.3% pDVOA (27th)
MIN pass D - 80/127, 63.0%, 211.25 yds/gm (14th), 6 TD, 5 int (t-6th), 84.6 rat,
-11.1% pdDVOA (6th)
Let me introduce a recurring theme you will probably pick up on throughout this preview: this does not look good for the Rams.
Minnesota has led going into the 4th quarter in every game they've played this season. Despite that reality (and the fact it pushes teams to pass more heavily than they would normally), the Vikings' pass defense has been very good this season. Minnesota's secondary boasts a great pair of CBs in veteran Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin to go with a solid FS, Madieu Williams. Tyrell Johnson, their promising starting 2nd year strong safety, would be a focal point of most defenses, but for Minnesota's secondary, he's the weak link. This is a tough unit to deal with, made even tougher when looking at the Rams' depth chart.
Donnie Avery was limited and Keenan Burton sat out yesterday's practice. Add that to our two receivers who continue to be listed as out for the season, Laurent Robinson and rookie Brooks Foster, and you're looking at arguably the least talented, least experienced and most injured WR corps. Mark Bulger will likely sit this one out before being eligible for next Sunday's game in Jacksonville, so all we can really hope for is that nobody gets injured (worse) and that Boller makes a play or two.
STL run - 25 rsh/gm, 111.75 yds/gm (13th), 4.47 yds/carry (9th), 0 TD, -14.2% rDVOA (25th)
MIN run D - 24.25 rsh/gm, 89.5 yds/gm (9th), 3.69 yds/carry, 0 TD, -3.9% rdDVOA (16th)
This does not look good for the Rams. This is a matchup of zeroes. Minnesota is one of two teams yet to give up a rushing touchdown (along with the Rams' previous opponent, San Francisco). St. Louis is one of three teams yet to score a rushing touchdown. While Steven Jackson is the lone member of St. Louis' offense that is feared around the NFL, he hasn't had the opportunity deep in opposing territory to taste the end zone. Luckily, he's got the weakest unit of the Vikings' defense charged with keeping him under wraps - their LBs.
The tough thing is, while their LBs aren't top-tier, none of their starting three can be considered subpar. While E.J. Henderson had been dealing with a shoulder injury, he played on Monday against the Packers and looked fine. If there's ever a game that you feel more than the ordinary level of pity for Action Jackson, this is it.
STL O-line - 2.5 sacks allowed/game (23rd), 7.6% ASR (Adj. Sack Rate) (25th)
MIN D-line - 4 sacks/game (1st), 10.3% ASR (1st)
This does not look good for the Rams. Like a challenge? I hope so. Minnesota's starting DTs, Kevin and Pat Williams, make up the best DT duo in the NFL. And Jared Allen is a sack factory. It looks as if Jason Smith will be back, though he likely won't get the start. The rest of the O-line is good to go, although "good to go" takes on a different meaning when you're talking about Alex Barron. Coming off of his second half benching in San Francisco, Alex has something to prove that he's been unable to prove since... well, since he's been drafted - that he can play with the fire of Incognito. Speaking of Richie I, you have to worry about this one. This is the kind of situation that lends itself to a blow up, so keep an ear out for the broadcast team to announce his name after a play that sees him tied up with Kevin Williams well after the whistle.
MIN pass - 86/128, 67.2% (4th), 198 yds/gm, 8 TD, 1 int, 103.4 rat, 37.4% pDVOA (9th)
STL pass D - 75/119, 63.0%, 224.5 yds/gm (19th), 7 TD, 2 int, 100.2 rat, 11.2% pdDVOA (24th)
This does not look good for the Rams. If we're lucky, we'll get a slow start from Favre after Monday night's game. If the Vikings come in taking this one for granted, we have to make the most out of it. O.J. Atogwe has to get a turnover, and Ron Bartell (who will play) has to lead the Rams' CBs in shutting down the multiple targets Favre uses. He spread it out pretty evenly among Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and backup RB Chester Taylor, so there is no safe spot in our secondary. Don't forget TE Visanthe Shiancoe, an experienced TE who can make things happen in the red zone.
MIN run - 29.75 rsh/gm, 123.5 yds/gm (24th), 4.15 yds/carry (16th), 5 TD, -3.9% rDVOA (16th)
STL run D - 33.25 rsh/gm, 135 yds/gm, 4.06 yds/carry (16th), 3 TD, 4.6% rdDVOA (26th)
The Rams have performed admirably against the run considering who we've had to roll out at DT. Still, this is quite a task for us to deal with. James Laurinaitis and Will Witherspoon will have to bring their A-game, or we could fall behind very quickly. I don't think I have to use this space to extol Adrian Peterson's virtues.
MIN O-line - 2.25 sacks allowed/game (t-16th), 6.9% ASR (22nd)
STL D-line - 1.75 sack/game (t-19th), 5.2% ASR (23rd)
While Minnesota doesn't boast the best line in the league, they can still get the job done in both pass and run blocking aspects. Steve Hutchinson is a future HOFer. Bryant McKinnie is underrated. And rookie Phil Loadholt has great upside (though his ankle may slow him on Sunday). Given the Rams' line, we're going to have to throw more than 4 guys at the Vikings' O-line to get pressure on Brett.
This week's top 3 storylines brought to you by three confusing Vikings fans:
1.) : Let's start with the bolt down the middle of his head. He must be a Vikings/Chargers hybrid fan; he runs off of Viking gasoline mainly, but can switch over to Charger electricity when coasting thereby saving the Earth. Take note of the pants as well. Are they pajama pants? Chefwear? Only ElectroViking will ever know.
2.) : This one's tough. Were it not for the Vikings stand in the background, you might not even identify these two as Vikings fans. The shoulder skulls? A clear Raider fan knock off. And that hat looks more like a Russian ushanka than your typical Vikings wear, but maybe that's what they were going for: the Russian folk Viking look. With shoulder skulls.
3.) : We have a winner. Let's start with the face paint. While he's definitely more purple than fan #1, it looks much worse. An homage to Violet Beauregarde? Don't. Stop. Wait. And you have to give him credit. #1 may have dyed his fu manchu and goatee, but this guy has no time for facial hair. He just applies yellow face paint to represent his mustache and what I'm assuming were supposed to be eyebrows. Instead, he just looks like a sad purple clown. Let's continue.
The VWO belt certainly is a reference to the NWO of WCW and later WWE fame. That can't be comfortable to wear while sitting, so I bowed in respect to the pain of his fandom...until I looked at that tattoo. No, not the obvious Viking one - that blue star on his right arm... is that a Cowboys' star? Suddenly this all takes on a new light. Reformed Cowboys fan? Closet Cowboy? Confused adult who needs both behavioral and mental help? I lean towards that last one only as long as he can keep wearing his clown face. Because what is worth living for if you can't wear a clown face while doing it?
Go clown faces, but more importantly, go Rams!