No narrative. No story. Just a winner.
The Los Angeles Rams are the fraud of the NFL. Rewind ten weeks and this team maxed out at six wins in the minds of Las Vegas and even less for many bettors. I do not believe that Las Vegas nor bettors underestimated the Rams. I think they underestimated the schedule. Few expected the Colts, Cowboys, 49ers, Cardinals, Giants, and Texans (less Watson) to be as miserable as they are. The Rams have feasted on those teams.
Through ten weeks, the Rams have scored at least four touchdowns in their road games and run up numbers that have them ranked as the second most efficient offense in the NFL gaining 112% of opponents average allowance. That is a number I don’t buy.
They have been tested twice this season, and lost both, at home, to Seattle and Washington.
I will not mistake Jared Goff for something he is not. Goff has only attempted 86 passes this season against defenders who grade out in the Top 25 of the league. Of those 86 passes, he has completed just 46 (52%) and thrown for only one touchdown.
Sunday against Minnesota, Goff goes up against the top-rated strong safety Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes who hasn’t allowed a TD all season and Anthony Barr, a Top 10 coverage linebacker
Minnesota has the tools to eliminate Todd Gurley from the game too. Through ten weeks, the Vikings have held opponents to 83% of their average gain per rush (second in the league). That is a full 10% better than the next strongest rush defense the Rams have faced this season.
As big as those two advantages for Minnesota are, their most significant strength is in their ability to tackle. No quarterback attempts more passes on three-step drops than Goff. Often, this means one on one tackles for defenders. Minnesota ranks in the Top 5 for tackling efficiency as a defensive unit.
Sunday will be the first time this season Goff will find himself in long down and distances. When Goff is forced to make downfield throws, his accuracy comes into question. He ranks 25th in adjusted completion percentage, 20th in turnover worthy throws and 26th in time to throw. All three of these trouble spots will become concerning for Rams bettors.
Minnesota is an outstanding, well-rounded football team. As it stands now, they are one of three teams New Yards Per Play deems worthy of being in the Superbowl via a Top 3 position (a stat that goes back to 2000).
They are also one of three teams (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) that rate in the top 10 for NetYPP, offensive efficiency, and defensive efficiency.
I like that Case Keenum is playing for his job each week as I can guarantee a motivated effort. The stand-in QB grades out no worse than 17th in any major category. Thielen and Diggs both grade out in the Top 10 at their position and Jerrick Mckinnon grades in the Top 15 for both rushing and catching out of the backfield. The Rams despite Donald, Joyner and Brockers grading out very high have the 22nd most efficient defense in the league, allowing their weak schedule of opponents to gain 103% of their average.
Public perception compounds. After four easy covers in a row, the pricing of Los Angeles could not be higher. On the contrary, the pricing of the Vikings due to injury could not be any lower.
On the most significant home field in the NFL, the Vikings defense will make Goff look like the quarterback from last year, and Keenum will do enough with Thielen, Diggs and Mckinnon to lead Minnesota to a comfortable win.
3x Minnesota Vikings -135 (1.74)