Who would’ve thought that the Rams would be in the playoff hunt, after coming off their bye with a dismal 3-6 record? You ask any player on the Ram’s team including staff, if their sights are on the playoffs, all of them would reply with the cliché’, ‘we are just taking it one game at a time’. In reality, we all know everyone at the Rams are licking their chops with their sights on the playoffs. This week the Rams are also playing a team who are just taking it ‘one game at a time’, but secretly have their eyes on the playoffs. This match up against the hungry Minnesota Vikings will see one of the teams walking out of the Edward Jones Dome with their playoff dreams shot. So what will the St. Louis Rams need to do to keep their playoffs hopes alive?
- Must contain Adrian Peterson. No one can stop Peterson, the only hope teams have is slowing him down. The Vikings offense is built around AP and if the Rams are able to slow him down, this will force the Vikings to put the game into Christian Ponders hands, something the Vikings wouldn’t want to happen, especially with Percy Harvin out for the season.
- Must play disciplined. The Rams are the third most penalized offensive team in the NFL with 99 penalties. Since the Rams cleaned up their act after the San Francisco game in week 10, their record has improved dramatically from 3-5-1 to 6-6-1. On paper the Rams are a better team, especially at the Edward Jones Dome with a record of 4-2. While the Rams are solid at home, the Vikings struggle playing away with a poor record of 1-5. The Rams have a lot of stats in their favor, but if they give out stupid penalties against the Vikings, they can kiss those playoff hopes goodbye.
- Keep Sam Bradford off the ground. This is a must for every game. The Rams offensive line has improved immensely in the second half of the season, but Bradford was still hit too many times against the Bills to say that the offensive line isn’t an issue. Bradford is one of the purest passers in the NFL. You give him time and he could hit a dime from a mile away, but this a lot easier said than done as the Vikings defense are very well drilled.
- Don’t be one-dimensional. The Rams don’t have the offensive weapons to get away with obvious passing downs consistently and the Vikings defense won’t allow to give up too many big plays. This means the Rams can’t find themselves always playing 3rd and long, otherwise expect a lot quarterback hits, sacks, incompletions and interceptions.
- Don’t allow Adrian Peterson’s big plays to get the Rams defense down. With Adrian Peterson’s talent, big plays are going to happen. So far, Peterson has had 18 plays for 20+ yards. If the Rams defense let big plays get to them, this will encourage more big plays and costly penalties. The Rams must play with a short memory, otherwise problems on the defense will only snowball.
- Don’t let down the St.Louis Ram fans. This is the last time St.Louis will get to see their team until next year. The Ram fans haven’t seen too many highlights over the last five years, but by winning their last game at home to keep their playoff hopes alive, will certainly be a great way for the much improved St.Louis Rams to give a send off to it’s fans.
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