WEEK 9: Noon VS. St. Louis • Ch. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)
One man’s prediction: Because of similar smash-mouth philosophies, today’s matchup between the Vikings and Rams should be fun to watch. Both teams are built to run the ball on offense, smother quarterbacks on defense and produce big plays on special teams. Because it’s a home game, I think the Vikings will make it four wins in a row. But if they lose their first home game, there could be playoff ramifications in a couple of months.
The Rams have won three of their past four games with rookie running back Todd Gurley doing most of the heavy lifting. He exploded for 566 rushing yards and three touchdowns over that span. After watching tape of Gurley, Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said, “He’s Adrian Peterson all over again.” But hey, the original Adrian Peterson still can be a force, too, as he showed with 103 yards vs. the Bears.
Out of the garage
When it comes to slowing down Gurley, it certainly won’t help the Vikings that they will be without starting defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and middle linebacker Eric Kendricks and that outside linebacker Anthony Barr is not at 100 percent. Audie Cole will get the start for Kendricks, and he has played well when given opportunities to start in the past. Cole has averaged 11 tackles per game in his past five starts.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, with the help of his friends, led two late drives to stun the Bears last weekend. But in the first 55 minutes of the game, Bridgewater’s throws were all over the place. He threw an interception and missed wide receiver Mike Wallace on a wide-open deep ball. The Vikings aren’t asking Bridgewater to do much. But when the plays are there for the taking, he has to hit them.
Player to watch
Aaron Donald, Rams defensive tackle
Last spring, before coach Mike Zimmer’s first draft, the Vikings had interest in Donald, but they ended up taking Barr with their first-round pick. Donald landed with the Rams and ended up being the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year. He has been even better this season and has recorded 14½ sacks in 23 NFL games. Donald and a formidable Rams front four will pose major problems for the Vikings.