The Minnesota Vikings travel to St. Louis on Sunday to play the Rams as both teams try to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Vikings beat the Chicago Bears on Sunday to remain in the NFC Wild Card race with little margin for error to finish out the season.
The Rams won their third consecutive game to make a surprise appearance in the playoff race. On Sunday, the Rams kept rolling by beating the Buffalo Bills despite the absence of productive slot receiver Danny Amendola. The Vikings won't be so lucky as they will need to prepare for the return of Amendola from a foot injury.
Amendola has only played in eight games this season for the Rams but still leads the team with 51 receptions for the year. Quarterback Sam Bradford likes to lean on Amendola to make plays and keep drives alive. The numbers show this combo should demand plenty of attention from the Vikings defense.
This season, Amendola is catching 72.9% of passes thrown his way, a clear five percent better than any other receiver on the team. Bradford has a passer rating of 100.8 when throwing Amendola's way, while his overall rating is just 81.7, and St. Louis is dramatically more efficient at converting third downs when Amendola is on the field, sustaining drives and keeping the offense moving down the field. Assuming Amendola plays, he is the first target the Vikings need to work to lock down, forcing Bradford to go elsewhere with the football.
Along with his 51 receptions, Amendola has gained 576 yards and scored two touchdowns for the Rams.