Welcome to our first installment of "10 reasons the Vikings will lose." The sports world is moody, so we'll be back on Friday with the optimistic "10 reasons the Vikings will win." Expect our mood swings Thursday and Friday throughout the NFL season.
Let's be honest. The NFL season really never ends. Teams stop playing games in February, but the world's greatest reality show really never slows down. But on Sunday, the NFL returns to Minnesota for real as the Vikings open the season on the road against the St. Louis Rams.
These Rams aren't the "Greatest Show on Turf" or the team that's grown used to finishing in last place. These Rams might be for real. Their defensive line is scary good, and that's just one of the reasons the will lose to the Rams.
10. Shaun Hill could save the Rams
Really? Do we really believe the backup journeyman quarterback in St. Louis is going to light up the Vikings? RollingStone.com has an article titled, "The Backup Plan: Can Shaun Hill Save the St. Louis Rams?" As BMTN's Shaymus McLaughlin put it, "save the Rams from what?"
Pro Football Talk actually drew a slight comparison to Hill and Kurt Warner, who stepped in for an injured Trent Green to lead St. Louis to a championship in 1999.
9. Rams boast underrated receivers
Isaac Bruce? Give 2006 a call. Tory Holt? Wrong again. The top two wide receivers in St. Louis this season are Kenny Britt and Brian Quick. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the duo gives Hill targets with "admirable size and speed." Throw in the super speedy Tavon Austin, who might line up in the backfield, too, and the Rams have a potentially sneaky good group of pass catchers.
Britt was the No. 13 pick in the 2009 draft. He's always had the talent to shine, but off-the-field trouble and injuries have slowed his potential.
8. Two solid tight ends
Former Wisconsin Badger Lance Kendricks and Jared Cook bring two more weapons to the Rams' offense. Kendricks was impressive during the preseason and Cook finished with 671 yards and five touchdowns last season.
7. That former Wayzata linebacker
James Laurinaitis. The former Wayzata Trojans linebacker is an upper echelon middle linebackers in the NFL, and he's already honing in on the Vikings.
6. Spectacular special teams
Greg "Legatron" Zuerlein, who entered the league the same year as Vikings kicker Blair Walsh, has one of the strongest legs in the NFL. He's a dangerous man in a close game. Tavon Austin returning kicks could be a nightmare, too. If not for Cordarrelle Patterson, Austin might have been the most feared rookie returner in 2013.
5. Vegas likes the Rams
Don't mess with Vegas. They'll get you every time! And if they don't, they'll get you the next time, or the time after that. According to Odds Shark, Vegas likes the Rams by 3 1/2 points over the Vikings.
4. Battering Rams
Without Sam Bradford, St. Louis will rely a lot more on its ground game and for good reason. They have a very interesting and deep list of candidates in the backfield. According to Give Me Sport, the Rams have a talented group of running backs led by second-year back Zac Stacy. He rushed for 973 yards last year for St. Louis and the Rams drafted run blocking tackle Greg Robinson with the seventh overall pick in the draft.
3. An early must win for St. Louis
It seems kind of silly to be talking about a "must win" game during Week 1 of the NFL season, but that's exactly what the Rams are faced with. After opening the season against the Vikings the Rams face Tampa Bay then Dallas. Turf Show Times says a 3-0 start would go a long way to helping the Rams make the playoffs. Their next eight games will be against teams that made the playoffs and won 10 games in 2013.
2. Good luck stopping Robert Quinn
Quinn, the former North Carolina Tar Heel, attacked quarterbacks in 2013 like Michael Jordan attacked the rim during the prime of his NBA career. Quinn torched the league with 19 sacks and seven forced fumbles. ESPN is reporting that he'll likely see a J.J. Watt-like contract in his future. We're talking about $100 million, folks.
1. The rest of the best D-line in the NFL
SB Nation says the Rams have the best defensive line in the league. Quinn is a monster, but there are some other big-time players on the line, too.
"The Rams' formidable defensive line features probably the best young defensive end in the NFL right now in Robert Quinn, who racked up 19.0 sacks in 2013, and opposite him, they feature veteran pass-rusher Chris Long, who added a not-too-shabby 8.5 himself last year. These two bookended the talented Michael Brockers (5.5 sacks) and Kendall Langford (5.0 sacks), and now St. Louis adds the guy who was probably the best pure interior pass-rusher in the draft this year in Aaron Donald. Scary."