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LA Rams @ Minnesota Vikings: Keenum and Goff to rack up the points

Case Keenum is having his best ever year in the NFL
Case Keenum is having his best ever year in the NFL
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The LA Rams are on a roll, but can they turn over the Vikings in Minnesota? Neil Harvey looks ahead to the action...

"It helps Keenum greatly that he has Stefon Diggs to throw to. Diggs is a tremendous receiver who'll hurt the Rams here. Their soft secondary won't handle his size and speed. I'm digging Stefon for a huge performance on Sunday."

LA Rams @ Minnesota Vikings
Sunday November 19th, 18:00 GMT
TV - Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Points a plenty

I don't often touch this market, as I find it a hard one to call. But this week, It's all about the points. The quote for this game stands at 45.5, which seems fairly standard. But bear in mind now that the Rams' four road games have produced an average of 64 points each - a phenomenal amount. Yes, you can be sure that number will come down over time and regress to the mean. But the bottom line is, the Rams are points machines. And with Minnesota's four home games averaging 43 points each, do you really want to be going under 46? I don't.

So who will get the bulk of those? Well many would say LA. The Rams hype train is full steam ahead right now following three blowout wins in a row. Quarterback Jared Goff looks unrecognisable from the jittery rookie we saw last year and seems poised for a long and fruitful NFL career. His receiving corps looks pretty thin on talent it must be said. But the signing of Sammy Watkins has been crucial, providing a genuine A-Grade wideout to work with. Beyond Watkins, it's been a team effort, with rookie Cooper Kupp and veteran Robert Woods - who's 94 yard TD last week was a franchise record - reining in the slack with some help from running back Todd Gurley.

Gurley of course is also key to the Rams offensive efforts. But whereas in recent years the entire game plan was built around the rusher, now he's just half of what is a very nicely balanced offense. Opponents know the Rams can run the ball, but it's the passing game that sneaks up on them and does the real damage.

But let's not get carried away. Because yes the Rams are good. But their opponents aren't too shabby either. For a start, the Vikings have the same 7-2 record as the Rams. And they have the advantage of playing at home, where they haven't lost this season. The Vikings defense is tough on the run, allowing just five rushing scores so far, and should keep Todd Gurley in check. And that puts the pressure on Goff to deliver.

The more I look at it, the more this seems set to be a shootout between the quarterbacks. Case Keenum has been an unlikely hero for the Vikings. At 29, he's never been more than a back-up - his record being 10 games played in 2016. But he's proved an able performer this year, producing his best ever QB rating and throwing 11 TDs to five picks. His years of filling in when needed have given him valuable experience and now it's showing.

Rams D looks soft

It helps Keenum greatly that he has Stefon Diggs to throw to. Diggs is a tremendous receiver who'll hurt the Rams here. Their soft secondary won't handle his size and speed. I'm digging Stefon for a huge performance on Sunday. Adam Thielen gives Minnesota a second quality option at receiver. And then of course there's the wily veteran - tight end Kyle Rudolph.

But Minnesota should also move the rock on the ground. The Rams have been vulnerable to rushers, conceding eight scores. They've been less exposed by pass-catching RBs though, suggesting Jerick Mckinnon will be less of a factor than Latavius Murray, who as the bigger back will bear the brunt of the early downs and could do damage in the process.

Too close to call

The Rams look the better team on form. But Minnesota are deceptively effective. They win without being fancy. They start as slight favourites, which surprises me, but not too much as I think this one will go down to the wire, perhaps even overtime. So the option of ether team winning by three points or less appeals to me, as does the big price on this going beyond four quarters.

Recommended Bets
5pts Total Points Over 45.5 @ [2.04]
3pts Latavius Murray rushing yards Over 49.5 @ [1.83]
3pts Todd Gurley rushing yards Under 79.5 @ [1.83]
3pts Either team to win by 3 points or less @ [3.75]
3pts Stefon Diggs receiving yards Over 58.5 @ [1.83]
1pt Stefon Diggs to score 1st TD @ [9.5]

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