Minnesota at L.A. Rams
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES– The Los Angeles Rams’ high-octane offense has been a constant this season, but the formidable defense could take a hit with the potential absences of two key cornerbacks. With Aqib Talib (ankle) and Marcus Peters (calf) likely sidelined, the Rams will aim to keep Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings in check on Thursday when they bid for their first 4-0 mark to begin a season since 2001.
“We don’t know how long those guys will be out. It’s temporary adversity,” said Los Angeles coach Sean McVay, who is expected to lean on cornerbacks Nickell Robey-Coleman, Sam Shields and Troy Hill with Minnesota wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs coming to the Coliseum. The Rams, in turn, have several explosive weapons on their third-ranked offense (493.3 yards per game), with Jared Goff liberally feeding the trio of Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to keep the opposition from focusing solely on multi-dimensional running back Todd Gurley. Goff’s 941 passing yards rank fifth in the NFL, one spot behind Cousins (965) as the latter has found instant chemistry with Thielen. The 28-year-old wideout reeled in a career-high 14 receptions in Sunday’s 27-6 upset loss to Buffalo to increase his total to 32, which is the third-most in league history through the first three games of the season.
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX, NFL Network. LINE: Rams -6.5. O/U: 49.5
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (1-1-1): Coach Mike Zimmer said on Tuesday that there is a “possibility” that second-year dual-threat Dalvin Cook (hamstring) will face the Rams’ top-ranked scoring defense (12.0 points) and sixth-ranked defense overall (296.0 yards allowed). Fellow running back Latavius Murray has struggled to get untracked this season after a strong finish to 2017, mustering just one yard on two carries versus the Bills last week and 62 total on 17 attempts in 2018. While there’s doubt involving Cook, Zimmer erased any lingering thoughts about the availability of star defensive end Everson Griffen — who has been ruled out for the second straight game as he battles a serious mental-health related issue. “The only thing really that we’re concerned about for Everson isn’t anything to do with football, it’s about him getting better,” Zimmer told reporters Tuesday.
ABOUT THE RAMS (3-0): Gurley isn’t a fan of Thursday Night Football — “it’s probably the dumbest thing ever,” he said earlier this week — but the star running back certainly enjoyed the last time he competed on that day. Gurley found the end zone on three occasions in the first half of Los Angeles’ 41-39 triumph over San Francisco on Sept. 21, 2017. The reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year picked up where he left off by finding the end zone for the fifth time (four rushing, one receiving) this season in the Rams’ 35-23 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Goff tossed three touchdown passes last week, with Woods grabbing two to go along with a career-high 10 catches for 104 yards.
1. Minnesota DE Danielle Hunter has collected one sack in each game to start the season.
2. Cooks ranks fifth in the NFL with 336 yards receiving, while Woods (222, 20th) is also ranked in the NFL’s top 20.
3. Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph, who found the end zone last week, has four touchdowns in his last five road games.