A pair of mediocre teams looking to make the jump in the NFC will square off Sunday of Week 9 as the Todd Gurley train rolls into Minnesota to take on the 5-2 Vikings. Minnesota was considered a darkhorse by many at the outset of this season, but despite their record in 2015, their play has left a lot to be desired. Their offense has sputtered, and it’s really been an elite defense that’s given them a chance in all of these close football games. For the Rams, ever since Gurley entered the fold this team has taken off. Their defense had always been solid, but now with a legitimate offensive threat, the Rams enter Week 9 as one of the hottest teams in football. This promises to be an intriguing affair, and one that could have some early playoff wild-card implications in the NFC! Read on below for a game breakdown and an official selection.
Rams vs. Vikings Betting Odds:
St. Louis Rams +1.5 (-110)
@ Minnesota Vikings -1.5 (-110)
Over 40.5 (-110)
Under 40.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Rams vs. Vikings Pick:
A passing of the torch could happen in this game – as Adrian Peterson takes on Todd Gurley. A-Pete has enjoyed many seasons as the ‘best running back in football’ but it looks like it is time to pass that title over to the opposing sideline as he sees Todd Gurley for the first time today. Even though Peterson would probably love to have a statement game on Sunday vs. Gurley, it won’t be easy. St. Louis hasn’t surrendered more than 56 rushing yards to an opponent since Week 4, so moving the ball on the ground might prove difficult for the Vikings.
Additionally, Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t taken that next step many thought he’d be able to do this season. In a nutshell, he has struggled. He hates dealing with pressure in his face and that’s exactly what this Rams defense will do on Sunday. Their pass rush is among the best in football, and the Vikings do not have a solid offensive line by any stretch of imagination. Expect St. Louis to get after Bridgewater on every passing down, forcing the young QB in mistakes and ultimately turnovers. Stefon Diggs has been excellent at receiver for Minnesota, but look for St. Louis to put Janoris Jenkins on Diggs, nullifying his effectiveness. Moving the chains will prove difficult for Minnesota on Sunday.
Ever since St. Louis welcomed Gurley into the fold, their offense has taken off. They can actually move the chains now and string drives together. He’s been dominant in his first few games in the NFL, and it makes you wonder where he could’ve gone in last year’s draft had he not injured his knee. Minnesota however will pose a definite test for the Rams’ young running back. They’re decent against the run, not the typical softies Gurley has feasted on of late. Still, Gurley is going to get his yards and this will open things up for Nick Foles passing from the pocket.
Foles hasn’t had a very good season at all. He’s shown his limitations and that he can be inaccurate at times. But he’s got Tavon Austin, who right now seems like one of the hottest receivers in football. Even though Minnesota can get after opposing QB’s, if Foles can make quick connections to Austin, it could be a long day for the Vikings and their defensive unit.
Predictably, look for Gurley to be a difference maker in what should ultimately come down to a few plays in the 4th quarter. The Vikings’ are banged up at the linebacker position and they haven’t shown an ability this year to sufficiently help stop the running attack. That’s a nightmare matchup vs. Gurley who makes a living on juking opposing linebackers. It’s a big mismatch and one the Rams will be smart enough to exploit. Look for St. Louis to pull this one out, on the backs of their rookie running back, Todd Gurley.
PICK = Rams +1.5 (-110)