Often times statistics are entirely misleading when it comes to a team’s abilities, but when the St. Louis Rams take on the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday, they have one stat that will tell the tale at the end of 60 minutes. Obviously bottling up one of the best running backs in the game in Adrian Peterson is a must, but as result, the Rams would not allow the Vikings to control the time of possession. That stat will in all likelihood determine who wins when these two battle at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday.
Perhaps one of the most telling numbers in all of football this season is the time of possession differential between wins and losses for some of the most run-heavy offenses in the league. Clearly the Vikings are one of those clubs and they rank fifth in that statistical category. In victories, the Vikings hold the ball on average for 30:04 of game time, but in losses, the team averages just 25:21 in possession for a difference of 4:43 per game between wins and losses. Of these numbers, Head Coach Jeff Fisher said: “In the Vikings’ last three losses over the last five games, their time of possession was right around 22 minutes.”
What this statistic basically says is that when the Vikes have to rely on quarterback Christian Ponder rather than Peterson, the results are not pretty. Perhaps an even more amazing number is that over the past seven weeks, Peterson has actually rushed for more yards (1,101) than Ponder has thrown for (962). In a league where passing rules the landscape, numbers like those are very rare these days.
If the Rams are able to contain Peterson enough that Ponder must perform for the Vikings to have a chance, the odds are definitely in their favor. In addition to the contrast in numbers between Ponder and Peterson in terms of yardage, no defense has had more sacks than the Rams since week 5. By forcing Minnesota to drop back a number of times and win the game through the air, the Rams will also give Robert Quinn and Chris Long a chance to pin their ears back and rush the passer snap after snap.
It may be easier said than done, but if the Rams can just get a lead on the Vikings this Sunday, the tables tilt substantially in their favor. There is only one player on the field this weekend that their defense must be cautious of and that is Peterson, not Ponder. Controlling the time of possession will greatly aid the Rams chances of winning when the final whistle sounds on Sunday.
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