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Vikings @ Rams

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To say things have been going well for the Los Angeles Rams is an understatement. The same can't be said for the Minnesota Vikings as the two teams prepare to play Thursday night on the West Coast.

The Rams are 3-0 for the first time since 2001, Jared Goff is playing like an upper-echelon quarterback, wide receivers Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods have essentially been unstoppable and running back Todd Gurley II looks every bit as good this year as he did last year.

Defensively, they have played solid to downright dominant football while giving the offense as much time as needed to run away from opponents.

But that doesn't mean things are perfect, and from an injury standpoint, things are beginning to add up in a bad way.

In Sunday's win over the Los Angeles Chargers, the Rams lost cornerbacks Aqib Talib (high ankle sprain) and Marcus Peters (calf) and punt returner JoJo Natson (broken hand), who was replacing the injured Pharoh Cooper. Prior to that game, kicker Greg Zuerlein was sidelined by a groin injury.

Talib is scheduled for surgery Thursday.

They have been able to manage the injuries to stay on the winning side of things, but the Rams will be tested to the fullest on Thursday against a potentially powerful Vikings pass attack that features quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen and tight end Kyle Rudolph.

The Rams will have to dip into their cornerback depth and rely on backups Sam Shields, Nickell Robey-Coleman and Troy Hill, among others.

Said head coach Sean McVay, "I think it's going to be a combination. Nickell Robey has played excellent for us this year. Then, I think guys like Sam Shields and Troy Hill will be asked to step up. But we do have confidence that we're going to get those other guys ready to go and they played a lot of meaningful snaps (Sunday)."

Meanwhile, an already turbulent week for the Vikings took a distressing turn Monday with the news that defensive end Everson Griffen has had two separate off-field incidents and is being evaluated for mental health concerns.

The Vikings were handed an inexplicable 27-6 home loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday and now turn around for Thursday night's game on the road in which the Vikings will travel two time zones to face the undefeated Rams. They traveled to Los Angeles without Griffen, who is at a mental health facility for "evaluation and treatment."

A road game against one of the favorites in the NFC would have been tough enough on a short turnaround, but Griffen has been one of the team's inspirational leaders since he became a full-time starter in 2014. He's tallied 44.5 sacks in 64 games in that time.

Without Griffen, Minnesota has to face a Rams offense that is tied for third in the NFL at 34.0 points per game. Los Angeles is third in yards with 439.3 yards per game. Stephen Weatherly, a seventh-round draft pick in 2016, made his first career start in place of Griffen last week and had seven tackles, a sack and two quarterback hits. With Griffen out, Danielle Hunter takes his spot at right end with Weatherly starting on the left side.

"Yeah it's a problem," Zimmer said of the Vikings traveling west on a short week. "We haven't had a home game on a short week since I've been here in five years. But it is what it is. You play the schedule how it is. I know the statistics about going to the West Coast on a short week and all that."

Road teams traveling through two time zones are winless in 10 previous Thursday games.

The Vikings departed Minneapolis after practice Tuesday, and Zimmer said, "We did a study on preparing for a game on a short week and all those things and that's why we're going out tonight after practice."

Trying to control the Rams defensive line led by Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers will also be a challenge, as Zimmer acknowledged. The Vikings do hope to have running back Dalvin Cook available. He missed Sunday's game because of a hamstring injury.

"Their front guys, obviously Donald and Suh and Brockers, they're get-going-up-the-field guys," Zimmer said. "Suh is explosive, powerful. They get to the spot on the quarterback. And then Donald is the quick, side-to-side (guy) and then use power to get to it. Yeah, it makes it difficult."

Goff has played well, completing better than 70 percent of his passes, and that will also be a challenge for Minnesota's defense.

Goff credits his supporting cast. "They're all great," he said. Woody (Woods) getting 10 catches, it was awesome. "very week, it seems like another guy steps up. It kind of cycles. (Sunday) it was Robert, Brandin. Cooper played great. I mean they all played great. It's good to have all three of them and then Todd in the pass game is good as well."

 

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This is the time for Minnesota to bounce back. With the Rams corners ailing, Theilen and Diggs should feast on that secondary. 

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They laughed at my quarterback. Called him Jared Goof. 

 

Who's laughing now

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Lol Jeff Fisher for making Goff look like a scrub. 

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Key observations (I'll try to address both teams):

:Vikings:

1. Whatever is wrong with this defense, it's fixable because of talent and depth. I think they're reeling a bit after losing the steadying forces of BRob and Newman. While neither was a great player anymore (BRob really never was, but he was very good), I think the defense would be better with both out there right now. That being said, what this defense will be when the younger, better players get comfortable is very much worth the early bumps and bruises.

2. Tom Compton sucks. Time to put either Jones or Isidora at LG.

3. Kirk Cousins is worth every penny. So far. Every aerial weapon is contributing. I love that he actually targets Treadwell, who has recovered nicely from his drops in Green Bay.

4. I think Adam Thielen torches even a healthy Marcus Peters. Adam Thielen is the best WR in the NFC North by a noticeable margin. Hell, we have the two best WRs in the North.

5. Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks suck right now.

 

:Rams:

1. I like a lot of what the Rams have as far as starters are concerned, but don't trust their depth at all. This is absolutely a top heavy roster.

2. Jared Goff is a treat to watch. His development under McVay has been stellar. Once Brady and Rodgers are gone, the 2 best QBs in the league will have come from the same draft.

3. Sean Mcvay's next evolution as a head coach will be to change when defenses catch up to his systems. Slight in-game tweaks might have beaten the Falcons in the playoff game last season. Can McVay make those adjustments when they become necessary? I sure think so.

4. Aaron Donald is so good he might be underpaid. He and Kahlil Mack are so dominant their values don't have a ceiling.

5. Kupp, Woods, and Cooks are deadly. If the Rams ever add a real TE threat...oh my God.

 

Edited by BwareDWare94

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