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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Weakened Rams could be made to work hard by Minnesota

Injury issues at cornerback should concern the hosts

The LA Rams are tipped by many to go all the way to the Super Bowl
1 of 1

Week four
Sky Sports Action, 1.20am Thursday night

The Los Angeles Rams have done nothing but enhance their Super Bowl claims in the first three weeks of the season, but it is time for some soul-searching in Minnesota.

Despite having their eyes on the top prize having fallen in last season's NFC Championship game, the Vikings were humbled 27-6 by previously winless Buffalo on Sunday, despite being 16.5-point favourites at kick-off. It was the biggest NFL handicap upset since 1995.

Maybe Mike Zimmer's team had been distracted by Thursday's clash in California as the Bills had looked poor in their defeats against Baltimore and the Los Angeles Chargers.

However, focus should not be problem when they come up against probably the strongest all-round team in the league.

The Rams have scored 102 points in their first three games, but while the Vikings have struggled to show the defensive power that was their trademark last season, this is the toughest test LA have faced following comfortable successes over Oakland, Arizona and the Chargers.

Although there was little about their home defeat to the Bills to be positive about, Minnesota did stop their opponents from scoring in the closing 36 minutes of the clash.

And they are capable of causing problems on the other side of the ball, particularly as the Rams have injury issues at cornerback with Aqib Talib out and Marcus Peters battling to be fit.

The Vikings will be keen for running back Dalvin Cook to be involved after a hamstring issue, but they have done well bouncing back from defeats in the past.

They have covered the handicap in 17 of their last 23 games following a defeat and the Rams have not been punters' friends, having covered the handicap in just four of their 15 home games since returning to the City of Angels.

Minnesota +7
1pt 19-20 Betway

The lowdown
Venue LA Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles Coliseum
Surface Grass
Weather Clear, 25C
Vegas handicap Minnesota +7
Vegas points line 49.5

Team news
Defensive end Everson Griffen (illness) will miss the game. Running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring) has returned to practice but may not be risked, while offensive tackle Riley Reiff is rated questionable with a foot injury.

Los Angeles Rams
Cornerback Aqib Talib will undergo ankle surgery and is ruled out as is kicker Greg Zuerlein. A late decision will be made on cornerback Marcus Peters (calf) while linebacker Mark Barron (ankle) is rated questionable.

Key stat
Minnesota have covered the handicap in their last five games against the Rams.

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The Rams have injury issues at cornerback with Aqib Talib out and Marcus Peters battling to be fit
E.W. Terms
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