HOW THEY GOT HERE Minnesota The Vikings success this season is based on one thing - the running game. The Vikings rushing attack behind AP is the number one ranked rushing attack in the league with 156.4 yards per game. Even though Peterson sat the last game of the season, he rushed for a ridiculous 1,937 yards on 311 carries for an average of 6.2 yards per carry. His performance this season has him as the early favorite for MVP. Furthermore, Christian Ponder was second in the league with a 103 passing rating. The second year player is really coming into his own and looks to be a perennial pro-bowler for years to come. The defense was completely reconstructed in the offseason. GM CA knew that he had to rebuild a defense that was the main reason for a mediocre 6-10 record last season. So, he went out and signed MLB Dqwell Jackson, DT Mike Patterson and moved CB Antoine Winfield to strong safety. Along with these moves, he added CB Prince Justice to solidify the secondary. Justice had 6 interceptions and provided shutdown coverage all season. Though the defense was ranked 15th to finish the season, they are much more formidable than those numbers would indicate. St. Louis The Rams are very similar to the Vikings in their style of play. They have a tremendous running game with a one-two punch of Stephen Jackson and rookie Sterlin Freeman. For as much attention as AP gets, Jackson rushed for 1,605 yards and had a better yards per carry average of 6.9 vs. 6.2. He also had 19 rushing touchdowns. Also, Sam Bradford had another good season with a 99.9 QB rating (6th in the league). Like Ponder, his future is also bright. On defense, the numbers say that the Rams have an advantage over the Vikings. The Rams defense is ranked 5th in the league in points and 7th in yards. They are especially strong against the pass ranked 4th but only 14th against the run. Maybe the best offseason signing was GM Zikry's signing of Keith Bullock. Most "experts" thought Bullock was done. All Bullock did was lead the team in tackles at 58, add 6 sacks and pick off 3 passes. He was clearly the leader of one of the better defenses in the NFL. WHAT THEY NEED TO DO TO WIN Minnesota Run the ball, control the clock and limit turnovers. Try to expose that 14th ranked rushing defense. If they fall behind, I don't think Ponder can do it against the Rams pass defense. St. Louis Control AP and build an early lead. I don't like Minnesota's chances playing from behind. PREDICTION This is really tough. These teams appear to be almost identical on paper. The only area of disparity that I see is the Rams 14th ranked rushing defense trying to contain AP. With that, I have the Vikings in a 17-14 victory to make it to HK Bowl 2!