Quarterback Matthew Stafford has lost six straight starts to the Vikings and has a career record against them 9-14. But on Sunday it may not matter much.
Stafford spends its first season with the Los Angeles Rams (10-4), who will face the Vikings (7-7) at US Bank Stadium. He had spent the previous 12 seasons with the most unsuccessful Detroit Lions and had an overall record of 74-90-1 in the starting lineup.
“I always thought he was the best quarterback in this league,” Vikings quarterback Patrick Peterson said on the All Things Covered podcast, which he co-hosts with former NFL quarterback Bryant McFadden. “He just happened to play for the Detroit Lions.”
Stafford was last on the team that beat the Vikings in October 2017. He then lost his next six encounters with them with an average lead of 11.3 points.
But Stafford’s position got much better when he was traded for the Rams, who have a lot of talent, last March. His wide-ranging successors include Cooper Kupp, the NFL leader with 122 hauls and 1,625 reception yards, Odell Beckham, Jr., a three-time Pro Bowl player who is beginning to regain his old form after some struggles in Cleveland, and resilient Van Jefferson.
“He clearly has more weapons,” said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
At least the Vikings are familiar with Stafford, who has thrown 4,142 yards this season with 35 touchdown assists and 10 interceptions. The Vikings opposed him twice a year, and he was in Detroit, a period Zimmer called “forever.” And Zimmer said his style of play this season was “very similar.”
“I think he’s one of the coolest quarterbacks I’ve ever played with,” said Vikings Defense Coordinator Adam Zimmer. “He takes a bunch of punches and keeps getting up. He gets up and throws the ball. He has a great hand, he is very mobile in his pocket, and I think he really does well in this system. ”
When Stafford was in Detroit, the Vikings successfully fired him. They threw his team record 10 times in the 2018 game and fired him six more times five or more times.
But that was against the offensive line of Lvov and when he had their successors. Much has changed since then.
“He’s finally got a solid team around him that can help him win, not just shoulder it, and he can just go out and play… stress-free football,” Peterson told reporters.
Sunday will see how stressed Peterson is. On the podcast, he was asked about reporting on Kupp.
“They take him everywhere,” Peterson replied. “You are praying. You are literally praying because he can find holes in the zones.”
Vikings All-Star Receiver Justin Jefferson said he “circled” his first match against Rams star defender Jalen Ramsey on his calendar, and that he considered it “a game of statements”.
Ramsey responded to what Jefferson said.
“I’ve seen it.… He wants to be an extreme contender,” Ramsey said. “He wants to prove that he’s one of the best in the league, and he’s trying to earn my respect by calling me one of the best in the league. But we all know how these matches take place. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t. I also live for them.… I didn’t circle this day.… I try to play all the games the same. ”
However, Ramsey values Jefferson very much.
“He’s a damn good footballer and regardless of our match, he’s already one of the best in the league,” Ramsey said. “I really respect him, but we will definitely achieve this.”
The Vikings did not exclude defender Jake Bargas from the training team on Saturday, making it likely that defender CJ Ham, deemed dubious with a hamstring injury, will play against the Rams. Wide receiver Adam Thielen, who missed the last two games with a sprained left high ankle, was also highlighted as questionable and is likely to return against the Rams.
The Rams will not have Andrew Whitworth’s starting left-handed tackle, who was placed on the COVID-19 standby list on Saturday. The Rams pulled the wide receiver Brandon Powell and defender Grant Haley out of the training squad and activated Buddy Howell running back from the injured reserve for possible use against the Vikings.