Here's a look at the key matchup in St. Louis with the Vikings and Rams both in serious need of a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive:
Vikings D-line vs. Rams O-line
The Vikings attack defensively with a strong group up front. They have two edge-crashing ends in Jared Allen and Brian Robison (along with No. 3 DE Everson Griffen) and a decent interior both in terms of rushing and disrupting the passer and also clogging running lanes and funneling ballcarriers to linebackers.
The Rams’ offensive line is a relatively unheralded, no-name unit, and though fans are screaming for more help up front, they have blocked the power scheme fairly well and have kept the pocket relatively clean recently to the point where the passing game has developed more downfield.
“They are getting it done up front, we’ve seen that,” Griffen told PFW this week. “They might not have the big names, but as a group they move well together and block (effectively). We’re not taking this (matchup) lightly.”
OLT Rodger Saffold is mistake-prone but has not been torn up like he was a year ago against top rushers. Allen was smothered by the Bears, who used extra blockers most of the game, but that helped open things up for others.
Robert Turner, a center by trade, has moved to left guard, where he has played well but not with a lot of power. He also can be a bit grabby (three holding penalties). It hasn’t been a great first season in St. Louis for C Scott Wells, who is finally playing but looking banged up. ORG Harvey Dahl is a lunch-pail brawler but lacks movement skills; still, he anchors the run game.
The Vikings' interior of UT Kevin Williams, NTs Letroy Guion and Fred Evans, DT Christian Ballard and Griffen, who rotates inside in the nickel, has been decent but not consistently dominant. Griffen has been a QB hunter, fined for hits against Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler the past two weeks, and Williams still makes his presence felt but is on the decline. Evans is getting more time in Guion’s place.
ORT Barry Richardson graded out as one of the worst starting linemen in the NFL last season but has been acceptable as a run blocker and pile pusher. Where he comes up short is in pass protection. If the Rams don’t help Richardson with a tight end or a back, Robison could be in line for a multiple-sack game.