Dec. 9, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) gets tackled by Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Nick Barnett (50) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. St. Louis beats Buffalo 15 to 12. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings Vs. Rams Preview: Five Big Questions


Another week, another huge game with playoff implications for the Vikings. Let’s rock and roll with these five questions…

1. Christian Ponder has another “prove it” game. So will he actually prove something this time?

The only thing Ponder proved in Green Bay is that he can make a really stupid throw at a terrible time and kill all semblance of momentum for his team. That’s not the kind of proving we want to see. We want to see the good kind of proving. The kind that makes us believe in Ponder a little bit. The kind that shows us he can walk into a tough road environment and actually make a positive contribution to a victory. Here’s another chance for him. Can he make a play? He won’t have to make a lot of plays, since this doesn’t figure to be a high-scoring game. But he needs to make one at some point. And not just an easy third down conversion in the second half with the game under control. I mean in a tight spot with his team needing him. Step up and lead Christian. Let’s see it. Cause right now? Not many people believe you can do it. Prove us wrong. I want you to.

2. Will Adrian Peterson keep his roll on? Or will the Rams finally be the team to stop him?

AD looks unstoppable right now. But really he’s not. The Bears stopped him pretty good after that first quarter last week if you recall. Once they convinced themselves that the Vikings had no shot at moving the ball through the air. They just locked down on Peterson. The Rams have the kind of defense that could conceivably totally shut down the Vikings’ run game. They have a really good front seven. Then again, this is Adrian we’re talking about. He kind of blows up all our conventional wisdom about how defense is supposed to work. And how offense is supposed to work. You’re not supposed to be able to run the ball that well against stacked boxes? Oh.

3. Is Steven Jackson going to rip up the Vikings the way Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin did?

The Rams don’t really throw it a ton. They’re similar to the Seahawks in that regard. They’re a running team that likes to play ball control and let their defense win it for them. So Steven Jackson figures to be a big factor in this game. Jackson is not the same back he was five years ago but he can still give you problems. And he’s going up against Adrian Peterson. You think Jackson might be a little extra fired up because of that? My crystal ball shows me Steven Jackson going into his own version of beast mode and running through a lot of feeble Vikings arm tackles. I hope my crystal ball is wrong. Maybe if I shake it a couple times…

4. Can the Vikes get the same kind of pressure on Sam Bradford that they got on Jay Cutler?

The Vikings really got after Jay Cutler. It was heartening to see the pressure finally have a big impact on the game. And it was pressure from different places. Harrison Smith rushed a couple times and actually got one hit on Cutler and disrupted a play. Nice to see a defensive back bring it and actually impact a play. Will we see that again Sunday? Or will Alan Williams go into typical safe Cover-2/no blitz mode? It’s not like the Rams have a downfield threat of Brandon Marshall proportions. Actually they have very little downfield threat. They do have a good slot guy in Danny Amendola. But they’re not a sling-the-ball-around sort of team. Sam Bradford isn’t Jay Cutler. But he’ll make a play on you when he has to.

5. Is Kyle Rudolph going to be a factor this week?

It was weird watching Rudolph totally disappear against the Bears. I know the Bears doubled up on him but still. You’d think he’d get something. A catch or two here and there. The Vikes managed to convert some third downs in the second half and Rudolph wasn’t really involved. Michael Jenkins became the go-to guy. Bill Musgrave needs to draw up something new to get Rudolph loose. Besides that play action bootleg with Rudolph in the flat. How many times can that work? It’s a good play but you don’t want to see it more than once a half I shouldn’t think.

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Tags: Minnesota Vikings