This week’s NFL kickoff, a Thursday night battle of two of the NFC’s top teams, had shootout written all over it. Both the Vikings and Rams were missing key defenders and even the oddsmakers expected this one to be a high-scoring affair as the over/under increased as game time neared. The offensive superstars on each side did not disappoint.
The two sides traded scores all night but the Vikings just didn’t have enough firepower to hang with the Rams, who entered the week with a top-six ranking in total yards, passing yards, rushing yards, time of possession and points scored. The Rams have now scored at least 33 points in each of their first four games, with this 38-31 win representing their closest margin of victory this year.
Rams QB Jared Goff set new career-high marks with his 465 passing yards and five touchdowns, easily besting his previous numbers of 355/four. RB Todd Gurley had a quiet 156-yard game if that is possible as his wide receiver teammates stole the show. Fantasy players have been facing a weekly dilemma of determining which Rams receiver has the best matchup. That can be thrown out the window. Play them all every week.
WR Cooper Kupp led the way with nine receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns, including a long 70-yards. Deep play threat WR Brandin Cooks added 7/116/1 on eight targets and WR Robert Woods, who was the go-to option last game, also went over the 100-yard plateau with a perfect five for five with 101 yards and a score.
The Vikings offense was also obviously impressive as QB Kirk Cousins finished with 422 passing yards and three touchdowns. While Cousins didn’t throw an interception, he did lose a fumble which essentially ended the game. The Vikes also had RB Dalvin Cook back on the field after he missed Week Three with a hamstring injury. A pre-game report suggested Cook would be on a pitch count and that was seemingly accurate. Cook carried 10 times for 20 yards and was barely on the field after halftime. Cook reportedly was fine to play, but the Vikings were wisely careful with their starting back.
The Minnesota pass-catchers keyed this offense as WR Adam Thielen again led the way with eight catches for 135 yards and a touchdown. WR Stefon Diggs caught a game-high 11 passes for 123 yards, while TE Kyle Rudolph added 57 yards on five grabs. Even WR Laquon Treadwell matched a career-best four receptions for 47 yards, though he also had a couple of costly drops. Cousins found new WR Aldrick Robinson for a pair of first-half touchdowns, his only two catches of the game.
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Colts QB Andrew Luck confirmed that he “can make all the throws,” though that is hard to believe after seeing his yards per attempt of 5.6, currently ranked 36thin the league. Last week, the Colts inserted backup QB Jacoby Brissett at the end of the game in order to attempt the desperation Hail Mary attempt.
Broncos TE Jake Butt, who missed his rookie season in 2017 recovering from a torn ACL, has torn up his knee again and will miss the remainder of the season. It’s a tough blow for the Broncos and Butt, who was leading the Broncos tight ends in targets, though that only gave him a line of eight receptions for 85 yards through three games. It is expected that TE Jeff Heuerman will be the beneficiary, though he’s unlikely to make much of an impact.
The Tennessee Titans released veteran WR Rishard Matthews after he made the request on Wednesday. Matthews essentially walked out on his team and the Titans were unable to find a trade partner. Matthews is likely to catch on with another team considering the poor receiving corps around the league. Titans GM Jon Robinson later said the team would not immediately look to add another wideout, which is good news for WRs Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor.
Dallas WR Allen Hurns admitted he was “frustrated” by his lack of targets early this season. Hurns, who many projected to be the top option for QB Dak Prescott when he was signed this offseason, is currently just fifth on the team with nine targets. ... Tampa Bay officially activated QB Jameis Winston from the reserve/suspended list. Although HC Dirk Koetter is keeping things close to the vest, it appears that veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will continue to start. ... Packers OC Joe Philbin, as well as QB Aaron Rodgers both praised RB Aaron Jones, suggesting he could be in for a bigger role this week. Jones saw just six carries in his Week Three return to the field but that was enough to lead the team in rushing…The Panthers signed S Eric Reid to a one-year deal.
The 49ers may have lost starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo for the season but their top WR Marquise Goodwin seems fully healthy, getting is a full practice. ... It didn’t look good for 49ers RB Matt Breida (knee) earlier in the week, but after practicing without limitations, he looks good to go for Sunday. ... Eagles veteran RB Jay Ajayi shed some light on the injury that kept him out last week, explaining he is dealing with a back fracture and calling it an issue of “pain tolerance”. ... Saints RB Alvin Kamara (knee) was back to a full practice and is in no danger of missing time in Week Four. ... Chargers WR Keenan Allen (knee) missed practice for the second consecutive day. It appears the team is just being cautious but this is worth monitoring as you prepare your Week Four lineups. ... Bengals WR A.J. Green (pelvis) got in a full practice and should be good to go against Atlanta. ... The Bears have ruled rookie WR Anthony Miller (shoulder) out for Week Four. He’s likely to miss multiple games…Colts TE Jack Doyle (hip) missed another practice and is likely to miss Week Four…Bengals RB Joe Mixon did not practice and will miss another game with a knee injury.
Among the many players who were able to get in a limited Thursday practice were RB Marshawn Lynch (shoulder), WR Doug Baldwin (knee), RB Chris Carson (hip), RB Alfred Morris (knee), WR Travis Benjamin (foot), WR Juju Smith-Schuster (abdomen), TE Rob Gronkowski (ankle), TE Hayden Hurst (foot), RB Devonta Freeman (knee), QB Aaron Rodgers (knee), WR Randall Cobb (hamstring), WR DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring), RB Corey Clement (quad), RB Giovani Bernard (thigh), WR Josh Gordon (hamstring), TE Jimmy Graham (knee), QB Tyrod Taylor (concussion).