Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Week one of the 2014 season has the Vikings coming to the Edward Jones Dome to take on the Rams. If St. Louis wants to come away with a win, they will need to focus on the following areas:
1.) Contain RB Adrian Peterson
The last time the Rams faced the Vikings, Adrian Peterson was on his quest to break the single season rushing record during the 2012 season. St. Louis’ defense certainly helped him out, allowing him to gash them for 212 yards and a touchdown. This time around, the Rams’ front-seven must limit Peterson’s production, as he remains the centerpiece of the Vikings offensive attack. Keeping him under 100 yards would go a long way towards a victory, and the Rams want to force the Minnesota to move the ball through the air as much as possible.
2.) Fluster QB Matt Cassel
Cassel is a competent passer and he is able to move the ball downfield – when he has time to throw. With a young and injured secondary, it’s important for the defensive line to hurry Cassel. This in turn will take pressure off of rookie CB’s E.J. Gaines and Lamarcus Joyner. If their base four-man rush can get pressure, that will enable more defenders to drop back in coverage.
3.) Win the special teams battle
P Johnny Hekker should do a good job of giving the Vikings a long field to work against and K Greg Zuerlein will be ready to go. My main concern is Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson. Against Miami in week four of the preseason, the Rams gave up huge returns on kickoffs time after time. The Rams must improve in this area if they want to start the season 1-0. If they can’t, it makes the defenses job that much more difficult.
4.) Take care of the ball
QB Shaun Hill doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards for his team to win, but he must at least put the ball in spots where only his receivers can catch it. The Vikings have a talented secondary that includes CB’s Captain Munnerlyn and Xavier Rhodes as well as S Harrison Smith.
5.) Blanket TE Kyle Rudolph
Rudolph is a great pass catching tight end that can gash defenses, if he is left unchecked. LB Alec Ogletree and S T.J McDonald will need to keep tabs on him and prevent him from doing damage, particularly in the redzone. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will need to figure out how to send blitzers without giving free releases to Rudolph.
Check back after the game for our Keys to Victory: revisited.