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Happy Friday, friends. 

After the Rams went winless over a span of five games, the thought of playing a game with "playoff implications" 10 days before Christmas seemed pretty crazy. But here we are. 

RAMS/VIKINGS THROWDOWN

It's a battle between two of the bigger turnaround stories in the league this season. 

Minnesota’s improvement this season can be attributed to three factors:

-- the return of Adrian Peterson has given them the top rushing attack in the NFL (No. 1 in Rushing YPA) (YPA = Yards Per Attempt)
-- a defense that ranks No. 8 in Defensive Rushing YPA;
-- most importantly, their pass defense has improved from historically bad (No. 32 in Defensive Passer Rating in 2011, at 107.6) to below-average this year (No. 22 in Defensive Passer Rating, 90.3). That 107.6 rating in 2011 means that, on average, the Vikings were shredded every week by a QB performance similar to Tom Brady.

As we've seen the past three games, the Rams have been doing their thing largely with defense.

The Rams have the No. 4 ranked defensive front in football. They're second in sacks (39), No. 5 at forcing Negative Pass Plays and No. 9 in Defensive Rushing YPA. 

That's the key with Adrian Peterson in town.

Perhaps the biggest and most important improvements for St. Louis this year has come in the passing game, where they rank No. 21 in Offensive Passer Rating (82.1) after finishing a disastrous No. 31 in 2011 (68.8). This plays into the slow and steady progression of Sam Bradford that
we talked about last week

The problem with the Rams offense is still a simple one, though: scoring. The Rams average 18.2 points per game. By comparison, the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL is the New England Patriots who average more than 36 ppg. 

But Minnesota’s offense is below average (No. 20 in scoring, 21.8 PPG), despite the brilliant production of Adrian Peterson. The Vikings will also have trouble scoring points, especially on the road against a Rams defense that has surrendered 14.0 PPG in its last three, all wins, against the Bills, 49ers and Cardinals. 

Stop Adrian Peterson and force Christian Ponder to beat you. If that happens, the Rams will be sitting pretty with a 7-6-1 record and hold the edge over the Vikings with two to play. If Ponder throws the ball more than 20 times, the Rams will force some INTs.

The Rams are 2.5 point favorites (that's -2.5 for you gambling types) ... I say Rams 23, Vikings 16.

RAMS ARE 250/1 LONGSHOTS TO WIN SUPER BOWL
If anyone actually puts money down on the Rams, I'd like to meet you. Here's how the Rams stack up with the rest of the league.

ODDS TO WIN SUPER BOWL XLVII
(courtesy: www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV)

If you were hoping to bet on the Jaguars to win the Super Bowl by Week 15 in the season, I'm sorry to say they're off the board.

New England Patriots -- 3/1

Denver Broncos -- 6/1

Houston Texans -- 6/1

San Francisco 49ers -- 6/1

Green Bay Packers -- 7/1

Atlanta Falcons -- 9/1

New York Giants -- 10/1

Seattle Seahawks -- 20/1

Baltimore Ravens -- 22/1

Pittsburgh Steelers -- 30/1

Chicago Bears -- 35/1

Washington Redskins -- 35/1

Dallas Cowboys -- 40/1

Indianapolis Colts -- 40/1

Cincinnati Bengals -- 75/1

Minnesota Vikings -- 150/1

St. Louis Rams -- 250/1

New York Jets -- 300/1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- 500/1

San Diego Chargers -- 750/1

Miami Dolphins -- 1000/1

Buffalo Bills -- 1000/1

Cleveland Browns -- 1000/1

New Orleans Saints -- Off the Board

Detroit Lions -- Off the Board

Philadelphia Eagles -- Off the Board

Tennessee Titans -- Off the Board

Arizona Cardinals -- Off the Board

Oakland Raiders -- Off the Board

Carolina Panthers -- Off the Board

Kansas City Chiefs -- Off the Board

Jacksonville Jaguars -- Off the Board

CARDS SIGN TY WIGGINGTON; NATION OF SCRAPPERS REJOICE
I have nothing more to add.
Here's the story.

LARRY NICKEL WINS ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS PARTY MVP







Congrats, Larry!

LET'S GO TO THE VIDEO


Something tells me Steven Jackson will have a little something extra to prove this Sunday.

Tweet
@patrickimig.

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