The Minnesota Vikings are 2.5-point favorites for Sunday’s Week 11 home matchup with the Los Angeles Rams, according to MyBookie. Straight up, the Vikings are -140 favorites while the Rams are +120 underdogs.
Both teams enter Sunday playing some of the best football in the NFL, boasting identical 7-2 records. The visiting Rams are riding a four-game winning streak in which their average margin of victory is 25.75 points.
Meanwhile, Minnesota is riding a five-game winning streak thanks to a steadily improving offense led by fill-in quarterback Case Keenum. The Vikings’ point total has gradually increased during the win streak, scoring 20, 23, 24, 33 and 38 points in their last five games.
Sunday’s matchup carries extra weight in terms of playoff implications. The Vikings currently own the No. 2 seed in the NFC, but both the Rams and the New Orleans Saints are right on their heels with 7-2 records of their own. The winner on Sunday will place themselves in the driver’s seat for a first-round bye in the playoffs.
The over/under figure for Sunday’s NFC clash is 45.5, which seems low given the offensive output these teams have produced in recent weeks. However, both teams boast top 10 defensive units that should limit offensive dominance.
The Vikings lead the all-time series against the Rams 21-14-2 and are currently riding a four-game winning streak in the series.
The last time the Rams defeated the Vikings in Minnesota was the season finale of the 2006 season. Tarvaris Jackson got out to a flaming hot start in that game, tossing a 38-yard pick six on his first attempt to help the Rams build a 41-7 lead by the end of the third quarter. Minnesota added a couple of garbage time touchdowns to make the final 41-21 in favor of the then-St. Louis Rams.
The most recent meeting in this series took place in 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings were able to win in overtime thanks to a Blair Walsh 40-yard field goal. Teddy Bridgewater was knocked out of the game after a typical Gregg Williams illegal hit concussed him. Shaun Hill replaced him and threw for a blistering 15 yards on six attempts, which turned out to be enough to win.
Time: Noon CDT
Commentators: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis and Greg Olsen
Minnesota will be without one key starter on each side of the ball. Right tackle Mike Remmers, who missed last week’s game against the Redskins with a concussion, will not suit up on Sunday. Rashod Hill will start in his place.
Additionally, safety Andrew Sendejo suffered a groin injury last week and will not be ready to play on Sunday. Either Anthony Harris or Jayron Kearse will replace him in the starting lineup.
Everson Griffen and Brian Robison are nursing foot and back injuries, respectively, but should be ready to play.
OUT: T Mike Remmers, S Andrew Sendejo
QUESTIONABLE: DE Everson Griffen, DE Brian Robison
The Rams had several guys listed as DNP (did not practice) throughout the week, but it appears as if they will be almost completely healthy for their most important game of the season.
OUT: RB Malcom Brown
QUESTIONABLE: TE Derek Carrier, CB Troy Hill
Each of these teams is about to find out how good they really are. The Rams and Vikings have both reached 7-2 against a rather weak schedule, though they have earned most of their wins comfortably.
Jared Goff and the Rams offense is in the midst of one of the most impressive one-year turnarounds in NFL history. By some statistical measures, the unit has literally gone from worst to first in the entire league. New head coach Sean McVay has provided Goff with a stable offensive line and a dynamic scheme designed to get Goff into a rhythm early and often.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has other plans. The defensive guru has feasted on young quarterbacks throughout his coaching career and will likely employ a number of coverage disguises to throw off the 2016 No. 1 overall pick.
This contest features two complete opposite coaches — a first-year, offensive-minded coach in McVay against a defensive-minded coach with 38 years of NFL experience in Zimmer.
Minnesota has the benefit of playing at U.S. Bank Stadium, where its performance has been significantly better since it opened a year ago. That’s the tipping point in this matchup for me.
Vikings 23, Rams 20