This Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams travel up north to take on the Minnesota Vikings in a NFC showdown. As it stands, the Rams sit at the fifth seed and the Vikings are at seven. The Rams are also in position to win the NFC West. This is a huge game with major playoff implications.
Today I sit down with Reggie Wilson, who is the sports director at Kare 11 news in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I asked him some questions to get to know more about this Vikings team.
Q: There is a lot of talk surrounding this game about two very explosive offenses, and rightfully so. However, who are some key pieces on this Vikings defense who will affect the game?
A: The key to this Vikings defense on Sunday will be the front seven. Even through the up and down season and the loss of Danielle Hunter, this group leads the NFL in sacks with 44 on the year. A guy to watch will be DJ Wonnum, who had a team high three sacks last week against Chicago. He has six on the year.
If Minnesota has any chance of stopping this offense, they will need much pressure on Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford. In the secondary Patrick Peterson is playing some good ball at the corner position, while safety Harrison Smith was just voted to his sixth career Pro Bowl. The performance of these three will be key for the Vikings this Sunday.
Q: With Dalvin Cook being placed on the COVID/Reserve list, what are some unique things that Alexander Mattison bring to the table?
A: Let me get this straight, there is no way to make up for the loss of Dalvin Cook. What he brings to this offense cannot be reciprocated. However, in three games without Cook this year, the Vikings have been okay. In Mattison’s first start in place of Cook, he produced 124 yards from scrimmage and a score against the Detroit Lions.
He is not the physical, tough runner that Cook is, but he is good running outside zone and is effective in the passing game. Mike Zimmer and Co. will look to use his skill set to their advantage and keep the Los Angeles Rams defense guessing.
Q: Is Kirk Cousins playing the best ball of his career? What do you think has been the key to his steady play this year?
A: Cousins’ play has fallen off a bit the last two weeks. However, I do think it is safe to say that Cousins has played some of his best football this year. Cousins has been very safe with the football, only throwing six interceptions. He has been good when offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak is able to stay on script and on schedule.
Cousins has been throwing the deep ball very well this year. Where the issues come, is when he’s forced to adlib and make off schedule plays. If he can stay within the parameters of the game plan, he can sling it with the best of them.
Q: Last but certainly not least, tell me what makes Justin Jefferson so difficult to defend. How does Minnesota move him around and make him a focal point week in and week out?
A: Man, Justin Jefferson is a special talent in this league. The three things that stand out about him are his route running, ability to separate, and his ability to get leverage on defensive backs. He’s built a rapport with Cousins where he just throws the ball up and trusts Jefferson to go and make a play for him.
Jefferson has hands out of this world. He catches anything in the general vicinity. What separates Jefferson from the other young wide receivers in this league is his gritty attitude. He plays the game with an uncanny competitive nature that is almost unmatched.
Kubiak does a good job of moving him around the formation and finding favorable matchups. Due to the loss of Adam Thielen, he’s been seeing more double coverage than usual. However, don’t get it twisted. Jefferson is that guy and will make his mark on this match up against the Los Angeles Rams.
There are many marquee matchups to watch for this Sunday as the Rams take on the Vikings in an NFC showdown. This is essentially a playoff game for both squads, and both teams will come ready to play at U.S Bank Stadium.