The Rams are gearing up to face the Vikings on Sunday afternoon, seeking their fourth straight win and 11th victory of the season. U.S. Bank Stadium is never an easy place for the visitor to play, however, which is something Matthew Stafford knows well.
With a win, the Rams will clinch a playoff berth and make it much more difficult for Minnesota to make the postseason. A loss will potentially make it easier for the Cardinals to win the NFC West, depending on what Arizona does in its Week 16 game.
Here’s a look at six stats and facts you should know for Sunday’s Rams-Vikings tilt.
Matthew Stafford is 8-13 vs. Vikings in career but has great numbers
Stafford and the Lions had plenty of trouble with the Vikings, particularly in the last four years. In his last seven starts against the Vikings, Stafford is 1-6. However, in his career, he’s 8-13 against them and has put up impressive numbers.
He averages 246 yards per game, has thrown 31 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions and has a passer rating of 89.5 against Minnesota. He’s certainly played well enough to earn a better record than his 8-13 mark, but the Lions weren’t very good during his tenure.
Rams hold all-time edge 27-17-2 over Vikings
The Rams and Vikings have quite the decorated history, squaring off 46 times in their history. Seven of those games were in the postseason, too, so there have been some big moments between these teams.
Despite the Rams winning their last meeting, a 38-31 victory in 2018, the Vikings have won five of their last six games against the Rams. Four of those five wins were by double-digits, including beatdowns of 38-10 in 2009 and 34-6 in 2014.
In Sean McVay’s two games against the Vikings, the Rams are 1-1, losing in 2017 but winning in 2018.
Vikings have third-fewest turnovers in NFL
Kirk Cousins is frequently criticized for being an average quarterback, but if there’s one thing he does a great job of, it’s taking care of the football. He’s thrown just six interceptions all season compared to 29 touchdown passes, and the Vikings as a team only have 12 total turnovers in 14 games – good for third-fewest in the NFL.
The Rams could have some trouble taking the ball away from Minnesota on Sunday, though the Vikings have turned it over six times in their last four games. Takeaways are tough to come by when facing the Vikings, but with Dalvin Cook likely out due to COVID-19, they could be forced to throw it more, which may lead to an interception or two.
Two of the NFL’s best receivers will share the field on Sunday afternoon when Kupp and Jefferson square off. Kupp leads the league with 1,625 yards, as well as 122 receptions and 14 touchdowns, but Jefferson has put up outstanding numbers of his own.
He has 89 catches for 1,335 yards and nine touchdowns, ranking second in receiving yards and fifth in touchdown receptions. He’s also fourth in first-down receptions (64) and third in targets, though Kupp leads the league in both of those categories, too.
Only two teams better than Vikings in red zone
The Vikings only have 46 red zone trips compared to the Rams’ 57, but they’ve been much more efficient when it comes to scoring touchdowns inside the 20-yard line. The Vikings are third in the NFL with a touchdown rate of 65.2%, scoring on 30 of their 46 trips. The Rams are 15th in the league at 59.6%, scoring touchdowns on 34 of their 57 attempts.
It sounds obvious, but the Rams will need to keep the Vikings to field goals instead of touchdowns in order to win this game. Minnesota will move the ball – it ranks sixth in total yards – but the Rams know the bend-don’t-break game all too well. If they give up 50-yard drives but only surrender three points, they’ll have a good chance to win this game.
The Vikings have had very little stability at kicker in recent years and this season is no different. Joseph has made just 84.8% of his field goal attempts (28 of 33) and 29 of 33 PATs (87.9%), struggling to convert for the Vikings this year.
Gay has had a completely different season. He’s made 28 of 29 field goal attempts and 40 of 41 PATs, giving him two total misses on the year. That’s fewer than the four missed PATs that Joseph has.
And if you go back to last season, Gay has missed four total kicks in his last 21 games, which is remarkable.