Minnesota Vikings vs St Louis Rams: STL -2.5 (5Dimes)
Lesser of Two Evils?This isn't the most exciting game to break down, but my first question is where did Jared Allen go? He hasn't had a sack in four of his last five games and only has nine on the year total. Statistically speaking, he was arguably the most important defender in the entire league last year. It's no coincidence that Vikings defense ranks below average in every meaningful advanced stat category this year. Without a reliable pass rush, this side of the ball will continue to be an uninspired bunch the rest of the season.
The Rams offense is going to strike fear in anybody, but they are a much better unit when Amendola is healthy. Givens played well in his absence, so Amendola's return should give Bradford a lot more confidence in the air. They've stuck with the running game all season long, even when it wasn't working. To their credit, they are in the top third of the league in run efficiency, so Fisher has stayed true to his guns.
Things are even worse for the Vikings on offense. Outside of Adrian Peterson (who is not a human being), what is there to worry about here? Christian Ponder has been on a one-way ticket downhill ever since his mini-win streak in September/October and now must figure out a way to move the chains without Percy Harvin. Let's not forget that Harvin was their MVP before he got injured. Yes, even more vital to the offense than Peterson. The bad news for Vikings fans is the Rams run D is actually respectable this year. In fact, their defense as a whole is a pretty solid unit across the board. They manage to slow down enough offenses to keep them in most games, and this game will be no different. James Laurinaitis will spearhead the game plan to slow down AP and with 111 solo tackles this year, I like his chances to be a difference maker on Sunday.
Bottom LineIt might not look pretty, but the Rams usually do enough collectively to be in every game. There's been a few instances where they were completely overmatched in 2012, but the Vikings don't present that kind of problem. Look for them to do enough to get the win and the cover this Sunday, especially with the help of a home crowd. The Vikings are 1-5 against the spread on the road this year.
NFL Pick: STL -2.5.