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Thursday, December 13, 2012
Around the NFC West: Gotta stop the pass

By Mike Sando


The St. Louis Rams, like every team preparing to face the Minnesota Vikings, appear focused on containing running back Adrian Peterson.

Makes sense. Peterson, after all, has rushed for 1,600 yards through 13 games. He is clearly the best player on the Vikings' roster. The Rams would be better off if they could limit the damage from Peterson.

It's just not clear whether containing Peterson is really the key to defeating the Vikings.

Peterson has averaged 23 carries for 119.7 yards during seven victories. He has averaged 17.3 carries for 127 yards in the Vikings' six defeats. He ran all over Seattle's defense, but with Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder struggling, Seattle controlled the game and won with its own ground game and three first-half scoring passes.

Ponder has a 70.0 Total QBR score with eight total touchdowns, six turnovers and 11 sacks in the Vikings' seven victories. He has a 17.9 QBR score with seven total touchdowns, 10 turnovers and 17 sacks in six defeats.

There doesn't seem to be a strong connection between Peterson's production on the ground and Ponder's success through the air. The old adage about using the run to set up the pass usually doesn't apply in the NFL, anyway. The Vikings have provided evidence of its limitations.

How the Rams fare against Ponder could be more important than how they fare against Peterson as St. Louis looks to extend a three-game winning streak.