Dec 9, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings mascot Ragnar leads the team onto the field before the game with the Chicago Bears at the Metrodome. The Vikings win 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
With the St. Louis Rams back in the “spotlight,” the amount of coverage the Rams are receiving has picked up significantly. Moreover, the number of writers jumping on the Rams bandwagon is slightly picking up, meaning that more and more are picking St. Louis as the favorite on any given Sunday. With that, fans from the opposing teams are fighting back in outrage! How could they possibly be pick the Rams to beat the Vikings? Well, they did… So, as we trolled through the comment sections in some of those “predictions” post, there was a flashback to the beginning of the season when Ramblin’ Fan used to do a weekly piece that focused on a fan’s remarks, giving the everyday “commenter” some well-deserved recognition. The comments inevitably lost their luster towards the middle of the season, with a majority of the fan base sulking over the beat downs from Green Bay and New England after the high of the 3-2 start to the season. However, with the Rams on their longest winning streak since 2006, the comments are definitely picking back up, and there is actually some evidence, supplied by the Rams play on the field, to back up a thorough rebuttal.
This week, we will turn to the comment section in an article at Bleacher Report entitled, “Bleacher Report’s Expert Consensus Week 15 NFL Picks.” Lead author, Michael Schottey, claims that 8-3 “experts” on their staff picked the St. Louis Rams to upset the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The few that go against the Rams seem to believe that Adrian Peterson will have a field day running through the St. Louis defense, with one claiming he “could end up doubling the 110 yards per game [the Rams] allow”. Others, presumably those who have actually watched the Rams play this season, cite the opposite; that the St. Louis defense will be the key to the victory, being able to slow Adrian Peterson and force Christian Ponder into difficult situations that may lead to costly turnovers. Naturally, that fired up the Peterson fan base, who quickly jumped to defend the league’s leading rusher. Here are the comment that stuck out the most to us, and our refute…
“How could the Rams be picked 8-3? Also, Miller, the ferocious rams d? How many rush yards per game do they give up? Adrian has run all over defenses better or as good as the rams. -Austin”
The St. Louis Rams have significantly improved since the opening quarter of the season, once Michael Brockers returned at defensive tackle after his ankle injury. The Rams have only allowed two 100+ yard games, one against Marshawk Lynch in WK 4 and then Stevan Ridley in London. Ridley is a product of Tom Brady’s passing game, forcing teams to drop back into soft zone defense that opens up hole at the line of scrimmage, plus the Rams were apparently more worried about meaning Arsenal players than preparing for a football game. Anyways…
Since the Bye, the Rams have played against some of the top rushing offenses in the NFL, including San Francisco (2nd) twice, Buffalo (6th), and New York (11th). In fact, the Rams are 4-0-1 against the Top 6 rushing teams in the league right now, having beat the Redskins and the Seahawks early in the season, even before the return of Brockers.
The Rams match up much better with teams that rely heavily on the run game, especially those with a sub-par passing game. Jo-Lonn Dunbar is one of the highest rated outside linebacker in terms of run support, and James Laurinaitis is much more effective down-hill tackling than dropping back in coverage. Both defensive ends are quick enough to maintain the edge on off-tackle plays and sweeps, and Michael Brocker will completely destroy the interior of the Vikings offensive line if they try to single block him. Against the Bills last week, who attempted to contain Brockers one-on-one, he racked up 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 tackle for a loss, and 3 QB hits… not a bad day.
With Percy Harvin out, the St. Louis Rams will stack the box and bring 5+ on a majority of snaps, just like they did against Fitzpatrick and Kaepernick. The difference is, Ponder is not as good as either of those players, and the Vikings do not have any healthy receivers that are anywhere close to Stevie Johnson, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis… the list goes on. St. Louis has the secondary to match up man-to-man on the outside and pull the safeties up in run support. Laurinaitis will be spying Peterson for a majority of the game, and the rest of the front severn will likely be playing with a run-first mentality, maintaining their gaps and playing their zones, as opposing to pinning their ears back and rushing the passer.
“Why is everyone picking the Rams over the Vikings Adrian Peterson will probably get 150 or maybe 200 yards. Look what he did against the Bears defense who is one of the best in the league he got 150 yards against them so I don’t see why he can’t get that against the Rams.Vikes win 24-14 -Justin Tracy”
Because some people have actually watched the St. Louis Rams play football this season, as opposed to fawning over the miraculous season the Adrian Peterson is having this year…
The Chicago Bears front seven is beat up, with Brian Urlacher out, Lance Briggs hurt, and Israel Idonije getting dropped in the depth chart. On top of that, they have Charles Tillman hurt and Tim Jennings out. Aside from the injuries, their rush defense hasn’t been real solid since the midpoint of the season, even when a majority of those players were healthy. Starting at Week 9 (not including the games against the Minnesota Vikings), the Bears defense allowed all four of their opponents’ lead rushers, or tandems, to gain 100+ yards on the ground. Those include Chris Johnson (141 yards), Arian Foster (109 yards), Frank Gore/Kendall Hunter (105 yards), and Marshawk Lynch/Russell Wilson (158 yards).
As previously mentioned, the St. Louis Rams are 4-0-1 against the Top 6 rushing teams in the league right now, having beat the Redskins and the Seahawks early in the season, beating Buffalo last week, and winning/tieing with 49ers in WK 10 and WK 13. The Bears, on the other hand, have lost four of the last five games, and are 1-3 against Top 6 rushing teams.
Since Michael Brockers has “fully” returned to the defensive line for the Rams, St. Louis has allowed only one 100+ yard rusher, if you include the disgusting showing in London against the Patriots as a “game.” They have held Reggie Bush (17 yards), Frank Gore (58 yards in WK 13), Shonn Greene (64 yards), and C.J. Spiller (37 yards) to below average games in that same time frame. The caveat for those teams is that they have, at least, one “viable” receiving threat on their team that is not a running back or a tight end: Bess/Hartline in Miami, Moss/Crabtree in San Francisco, Hill in New York, and Johnson in Buffalo).The Vikings have NONE with Harvin on the IR. Worse, even those team, aside from the Jets, have an average quarterback manning the backfield. The Vikings do not…
The only way the Vikings will beat the Rams is if the Minnesota defense can somehow cause Sam Bradford and the Rams offense to hand them the game with costly turnovers; in the same way the Bears handed them the game last week with interceptions and ineptitude on offense in the first half. Aside from the game against Chicago, when the Bears defense was in it’s prime, Bradford has not made many costly errors this season. With Danny Amendola returning, the Rams should have more than enough to rip through the weak Minnesota secondary, especially with both of Minnesota’s starting cornerbacks, Winfield and Jefferson, and their starting middle linebacker, Brinkley, nursing injuries. Peterson will have a sub-110 yard day, at best, with a single rushing touchdown. That will be more than enough for a Rams 24 – Vikings 14 win.