Turnover battle. The Vikings have had issues on the road because they’ve coughed the ball up too much. They had a shot against the Packers in Lambeau until Christian Ponder threw a couple terrible picks. And Adrian Peterson’s early fumble against the Bears was key to that loss. This is not a team that can afford to give the ball away and fall down early. They’re not a big play offensive team that can get those points back readily. Ponder is the main offender. He just makes bad decisions sometimes. If he’s not careful with the ball they have no shot.
The main thing that’s changed is no Percy Harvin. With Harvin on the field Ponder had that security blanket. They could throw short passes to Harvin and let him turn them into big plays. Their passing game was never great, even with Harvin in there, but at least with Harvin you gave the defense something they needed to adjust to. It allowed for the possibility of other things opening up. Obviously, Harvin is not coming back this week, so I don’t see Ponder and the passing game getting a lot better. We’ve already concluded that their other receivers are trash.
Teams have been stacking the box against Peterson for weeks and it hasn’t mattered. In Peterson’s mind, it actually gives him an advantage because with fewer safeties back, he has the chance to break more big plays if he can make it through the second level. It would be nice to take advantage of all those stacked boxes with some deep pops but the Vikes have had trouble finding anyone who can get open deep even against single coverage. And Ponder doesn’t exactly deliver a good deep ball. Basically, they’ll just keep handing it to Peterson and trusting him to make things happen. Doesn’t really matter what the defense does.
Depends on how the Rams attack. The Vikes have been particularly susceptible to misdirection/draws/screens, that sort of stuff. Zone runs also. Over-aggressive front four, lack of anchoring nose tackle, somewhat undisciplined linebackers and also just not wrapping up. They’ve had an infuriating number of missed tackles. Basically it comes down to them shoring up their technique and not letting guys get 10 when they should get 2. I’m not sure how much better that’s going to get at this point of the season.
Since I have zero faith in Christian Ponder right now, I have to pick the Rams. Vikings have just not looked good on the road. And you have to figure one of these weeks Peterson is going to have a bad game. He can’t keep up his pace. The Rams would seem good candidates to stop him. I’m picking St. Louis 17-10.