With TNF being a major topic of discussion amongst player safety, both teams enter the matchup heavily banged up. The Rams look to remain undefeated and head to a perfect 4-0 record while the Vikings look to make up some ground in the NFC North and improve to 2-1-1.
Let’s take a look at the matchups to watch in this game:
CB’s Sam Shields/Nickell Robey-Coleman vs WR’s Adam Thielen/Stefon Diggs
As you can probably notice, I didn’t list Marcus Peters here as I think it’s probably the wisest decision to keep him out this week and have him full-go in week five. Now, Shields and NRC are no slouches. In very limited time Shields has managed to intercept a pass and generally play well in coverage. As for NRC, he’s one of the leagues best nickel corners who plays with a tenacity and physicality that can’t be matched. Both will need to be on their “A-games” as Thielen and Diggs are two of the best receivers in the league. Currently, Thielen is fourth in the league with 338 yards on 32 receptions with a touchdown. Across from him Diggs has registered a 16-reception, 188-yard, and three-touchdown statline.
RG Austin Blythe vs DT Sheldon Richardson
Austin Blythe is one of the biggest surprises this Rams team could have imagined. Taking over for suspended starter Jamon Brown, Blythe has been a brilliant plug-and-play option at RG. Not only that, but he’s been absolutely outstanding - arguably the leagues best right guard through three games. This week he’ll have a tough matchup with Sheldon Richardson coming to town. Richardson only has one sack on the season but we all know the impact a player can have outside of a statline (see: Donald, Aaron). Luckily for the Rams, they’ll have some familiarity with Richardson as he was on the Seattle Seahawks’ team last year.
QB Jared Goff vs FS Harrison Smith/MLB Eric Kendricks
You may ask, what the heck is this matchup? Well, this is going to be a cat-and-mouse game if there ever is one. Jared Goff is obviously the leader of the Rams offense as he has the freedom to make calls at the line and identify coverage's/players prior to the snap. Harrison Smith and Eric Kendricks are the two guys who’ll do the same for the Vikings (mainly Kendricks). Smith is one to watch out for as he is as versatile as they come regularly being found all over the field and playing robber against QB’s with his high football IQ.
Rams’ DL vs Vikings’ OL
Yup. As with most weeks, the Rams’ defensive line is going to be absolutely crucial in this game. Last years matchup with the Vikings was so frustrating because the Rams got so much pressure on Case Keenum but regularly let him break sacks and extend plays only to move the ball downfield. Hopefully this time around the defensive line is able to connect more by roughing up Kirk Cousins and potentially logging a few sacks. If there’s ever a week for the DL to get on track, it’s this one:
From @PFF on #Vikings: Offensive line surrendered a total of 29 pressures against Buffalo (two sacks, three hits, 24 hurries), the most allowed by any NFL team in week 3. The struggles were highlighted by left tackle Riley Reiff who surrendered a total of 12 pressures.''— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) September 24, 2018
Head Coach Sean McVay vs Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Two of the leagues best play callers get to face off again after the Vikings were victorious in 2017. McVay is an offensive savant and will definitely have a innovative gameplan for the team who just got smoked 27-6 by a rookie QB in Josh Allen. On the opposite side, Zimmer is one of the leagues best defensive coaches and has trademarked the “double-a gap” style of play. Whether that means an aggressive blitz package with solid man coverage in the back-end or a strong four-man pass rush with the LB’s dropping into coverage, the Rams will need to communicate.
Get prepared for battle, Rams fans. The Rams are going to sport the sexiest jerseys in sports history this Thursday. Not only that, but they’ll come out victorious while doing so.