Heading into the season, you could have argued that the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams were the two best teams in the NFC.
The 3-0 Rams have played up to that billing, but the 1-1-1 Vikings have been a bit of a disappointment. Los Angeles has looked outstanding on offense, defense and special teams, while Minnesota has been up and down in all three phases.
However, it’s still very early in the season. Both squads will get the chance to prove their contender status against each other on Thursday night (8:20 p.m. ET on FOX and NFL Network).
The top offshore oddsmakers for USA residents have posted lines for this highly-anticipated game. Which team is the better bet against the spread and will the squads combine to go over or under the projected point total? We will answer those equations after we discuss some factors for the teams. Then we will conclude this preview with our Minnesota Vikings vs Los Angeles Rams predictions and betting picks.
Can Dalvin Cook & Vikings’ Offensive Line Take Pressure Off Kirk Cousins?
The Vikings had 14 yards rushing against the Bills last Sunday. That number is not a typo. Minnesota played behind for nearly the entire game and essentially abandoned its running game, carrying the ball just six times.
To be fair, the Vikings were without starting running back Dalvin Cook. Backup Latavius Murray is decent, but he’s not quite as effective as Cook. Minnesota is much stronger when it has both players in the backfield to split the workload.
The Rams should provide a tough challenge for the Vikings’ running game on Thursday. Defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh are elite and are tough to run on inside. However, the Los Angeles Chargers did find some success on the ground in Week 3 against the Rams, rushing for 141 yards on only 20 attempts. Can the Vikings do the same to stay balanced and unpredictable on offense?
Can Rams’ Pass Defense Survive Despite Key Injuries?
Los Angeles has had an amazing defense this year but with cornerback Aqib Talib out with an ankle injury and cornerback Marcus Peters nursing a calf injury and being questionable to play, its pass defense is a slight question mark. Both guys are Pro Bowlers and play some of the best man-to-man coverage in the NFL.
Combine those injuries with a Rams pass rush that is just mediocre, and it appears as if there is a chance for a big day from the Vikings’ passing game. Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs combines to be a potent trio.
One of the biggest issues for the Vikings in Week 3 was a terrible offensive line performance. They won’t need to be amazing in Week 4 if the Rams’ replacement secondary players aren’t great and the Los Angeles pass rush plays at its normal average level.
Can Rams Keep Vikings’ Defense on Field?
Switching over to the opposite side of the ball, we have a Rams offense that has been fantastic at maintaining possession and keeping opposing defenses on the field. Los Angeles has held the ball an average of 32 minutes and 17 seconds per game, which ranks sixth in the NFL.
The Vikings have held possession only 27 minutes per game, which is fourth-last in the league. In the Bills game, Minnesota only had the ball for 9 minutes and five seconds, while Buffalo had it for 20 minutes and 55 seconds.
If these trends continue for both teams, the Rams could win going away. The Vikings have a great defense on paper, but if it spends almost the entire game on the field, it’s going to get tired. By the same token, the Rams’ defense would stay fresh and wreak havoc with more rest on the sidelines.
Our Preview’s Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Rams Week 4 Betting Picks & Predictions
I truly believe the Vikings-Bills game in Week 3 was a major anomaly. The Vikings are a very talented team that had a bad day in many facets and the turnovers made it difficult for their defense to ever get a rest. Also, the Vikings’ defense majorly recovered in the second half, allowing no points and only 36 yards on 22 plays to the Bills.
While the Rams have been playing much better this season and are at home, I think the Vikings have a bigger chip on their shoulders. Los Angeles also has more injury issues heading into this contest.
With all that said, here are the Minnesota Vikings vs Los Angeles Rams predictions for this preview:
- In my opinion, sportsbooks have overreacted a bit in making the Rams a 6.5- or 7-point favorite at home. Heading into this season, this game probably would have been much closer to a push in Los Angeles. The best option may be Vikings +7.5pts @ -115 betting odds with BetOnline.
- Both teams are above average on offense and defense. However, with the great rushing defenses on both sides, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more passing plays, which usually results in time expiring more slowly. I advise betting the over 49 total points @ -110 with Intertops.