Key Matchups: St Louis Rams vs Minnesota Vikings


Aug 8, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers (90) on the sideline in the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

As the St Louis Rams complete preparations for the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings, Ramblin’ Fan takes a look at some of the key one-on-one battles that are likely to have a big influence on which team leaves the Edward Jones Dome with the first victory of the new season.

Adrian Peterson vs Michael Brockers

Arguably the most talented running back of his generation, Minnesota’s number 28 has accumulated 3,363 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns, as well as a further 388 yards and two touchdowns through the air, over the last two seasons. AP is unquestionably one of Minnesota most dangerous players. With a tally of 2,097 yards in 2012, Peterson came closer than anyone to the single-season record rushing record of 2,105 held by the Rams’ own Eric Dickerson since 1984. Peterson will have this figure in his sights again going into 2014. As per Bleacher Report, earlier this week Peterson turned up the heat a little on the season opener by stating he would score a touchdown with his first carry against the Rams on Sunday. One man who may have something to say about that is St Louis’ third year defensive tackle, Michael Brockers. The former first round pick from LSU notched up 38 tackles, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the last campaign. Brockers is rapidly developing into a top-tier run stuffer, and against an elite running back this battle could be key. Preventing Adrian Peterson from getting anywhere close to the 212 yards he ran for in this fixture in 2012 is vital to the Rams success.

Robert Quinn vs Matt Kalil

Quinn is as important to the Rams defense as Adrian Peterson is to the Vikings offense. With 19 sacks last season, missing out on the Deacon Jones award by just half a sack, Quinn will be called upon again throughout this season to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Standing in his way on Sunday will be the Vikings third year left tackle, Matt Kalil. The 6’7” Kalil was taken with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, and was selected to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. 2013 saw Kalil slip back according to Pro-Football Focus, with their grading of -6.0 compared to +12.1 the previous year. If Kalil can regain his 2012 form then Robert Quinn may struggle to get to Matt Cassel. If the opposite is true, Quinn could enjoy a very successful afternoon. Applying pressure to the Vikings passing game and preventing Cassel from having time to look downfield for Cordarrelle Patterson and company will be another key factor in deciding the outcome of this one.

Kenny Britt vs Captain Munnerlyn

Many articles have been written during the off-season speculating whether the arrival of Kenny Britt will bring the Rams’ long wait for a 1,000 yard season for one of their receivers to an end. Picking up 68 yards from two long passes against Cleveland, the only preseason game where he made a meaningful contribution, Britt showed flashes of what he is capable of as a deep threat. Leading the Vikings depth chart at the cornerback position is new addition, Captain Munnerlyn. Missing only three regular season games in his five seasons with Carolina, Munnerlyn was a key contributor to a Panthers defense that conceded an average of only 15.1 points per game, second in the entire league behind Seattle. Britt does have a 6 inch height advantage over Munnerlyn which may be a factor in contested balls in the air


St Louis Rams vs. St Louis Rams

This may sound like a curious comment, but with the Rams propensity to shoot themselves in the foot with penalties, the team has arguably been its own worst enemy on occasions over the last few seasons. Last season St. Louis conceded 123 penalties – the second highest total in the league. Across this year’s preseason games, the team conceded a total of 50 penalties for 379 yards – that is just under a quarter of a mile in penalty yardage in four games. By contrast, in 2013, Sunday’s opponent, Minnesota, was flagged 70 times, the second lowest tally in the league. The Rams need to be much tighter with discipline on both sides of the ball if they are not to kill promising drives or extend those of the opposition by racking up the flag count.