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The Los Angeles Rams sent running back Cam Akers to the Minnesota Vikings in a trade that involves pick swaps in the 2026 NFL Draft, plus conditional draft picks.
The Vikings are the worst-rushing team in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season, averaging just 69 rushing yards per game.
The Vikings hope Akers can bolster their rushing game while adding depth behind starter Alexander Mattison. Backup Kene Nwangwu sustained a back injury in training camp, which left untested Ty Chandler as the primary backup behind Mattison.
The Rams selected Akers with a second-round pick out of Florida State in the 2020 NFL Draft. He showed promise as a rookie in 2020 with 748 yards from scrimmage, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
Akers tore his Achilles tendon in the 2021 preseason, but returned in time for the playoffs to help the Rams win Super Bowl LVI.
Pass-Happy Vikings Have NFL’s Worst Rushing Attack
Mattison struggled in his first season as a starter for the pass-happy Vikings. In the first two games of the season, the Vikings attempted only 23 rushes, which were a combination of their overall philosophy and the fact they fell behind early in both games. The passing game, led by quarterback Kirk Cousins, tallied 674 air yards for the second-most lethal passing attack in the NFL this season.
Dalvin Cook was the starting running back for the Vikings for the past half-decade, but he signed with the New York Jets in the preseason. Cook was a four-time All-Pro running back with the Vikings who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.
With Cook entering free agency, the Vikings thought that former backup Mattison could easily step into the starting role. Mattison excelled when Cook went down with injuries in previous seasons, and he scored 11 touchdowns as a replacement.
In 2023, Mattison has yet to find his groove in the first two games this season as the starter. He rushed 19 times for 62 yards, averaging 3.3 yards per carry. He hasn’t scored any touchdowns this season.
The Vikings’ rushing attack suffered in two losses to start the season, with Mattison unable to find his rhythm. The Vikings rushed for 41 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1, and generated only 28 rushing yards against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2.
Disgruntled Akers Gets Second Chance
In 2022 with the Rams, Akers rushed 188 times for 786 yards and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. He scored seven rushing touchdowns in 15 games.
Akers had a hot and cold relationship with Rams head coach Sean McVay that dates to last season. He spent multiple weeks away from the team in the middle of the season after the Rams considered adding a veteran running back in a trade. McVay and Akers smoothed out their issues, and Akers returned to the lineup for the final 10 games of the 2022 season.
Akers started for the Rams in Week 1 in a victory against the Seattle Seahawks. He rushed for only 29 yards on 22 carries and scored once. Second-year running back Kyren Williams excelled with 52 yards and two touchdowns on only 15 carries.
McVay didn’t include a healthy Akers on the active roster in Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers.
I’m just as confused as everybody else,” said Akers via social media.
“I feel very good about the clarity that was provided to him on Friday and Saturday, both through he and (his) agent David Mulugheta,” McVay told the LA Times. “That’s unfortunate, but I feel like it was very clear in regards to our dialogue.”
Meanwhile, Williams contributed 100 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns for the Rams in a loss against the 49ers in Week 2.
The Rams indicated on Monday that they were shopping Akers. By Wednesday, the Vikings and Rams worked out a trade.
Akers reunites with two former coaches in Minnesota after being acquired by the Vikings. Head coach Kevin O’Connell and offensive coordinator Wes Phillips were on McVay’s staff with the Rams in 2020 and 2021.
Kirk Cousins Trade Rumors
After the New York Jets lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers to an Achilles injury, there have been whispers and rumors out of Gotham that the Jets are interested in acquiring Cousins in a trade.
Cousins has an expiring contract and all signs suggest the Vikings and Cousins will part ways in the off-season. A trade prior to the deadline makes sense if the Vikings aren’t going to make the playoffs and have no interest in bringing back Cousins.
There’s a strong batch of quarterbacks coming out of college at the end of this season, including 2022 Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina) Shedeur Sanders (Colorado), Bo Nix (Oregon), Michael Penix, Jr. (Washington), Quinn Ewers (Texas), Riley Leonard (Duke), Jayden Daniels (LSU), J.J. McCarthy (Michigan), and Gavin Hardison (UTEP).
With so many incoming prospects, the Vikings see a potential path by selecting a new franchise quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft.
However, the Akers trade with the Rams indicates that the Vikings aren’t giving up on this season quite yet. Three out of their next four games are against 0-2 teams, including the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3, the Carolina Panthers in Week 4, and the Chicago Bears in Week 6.
Betting the 0-2 Vikings
The Vikings are 0-2 and know they can drastically increase their postseason odds with a victory against the winless Chargers in Week 3. The Chargers are in the same spot as the Vikings as a playoff squad from last season who had a disappointing 0-2 start this season.
Since the merger in 1970, only six teams advanced to the playoffs after an 0-3 start. The 2018 Houston Texans were the last squad that stumbled out of the gate at 0-3 and locked up a postseason berth.
The Vikings won 13 games last season, but most of their victories were close, one-score games. They were exposed in a postseason loss to the New York Giants and knocked out after one game. Oddsmakers installed the Vikings with a win total of 8.5 over/under in 2023 before the season began. Their adjusted win total is now 7.5 o/u.
The Vikings are currently +260 odds to make the playoffs, according to DraftKings. They’re -340 odds to miss the postseason.
The Vikings began the season at +290 odds to win the NFC North, and +3500 odds to win the Super Bowl. After a 0-2 start, the Vikings are +7000 odds to win the Super Bowl and +4500 odds to win the NFC Championship.
The Detroit Lions (1-1) are the betting favorite to win the NFC North at -105 odds, followed by the Green Bay Packers (1-1) at +200, the Vikings at +500, and the Chicago Bears (0-2) at +1300.
The Vikings host Justin Herbert and the Chargers in a battle of winless teams in Week 3. The betting line has vacillated all week, and landed at a pick’em a couple of times. The Vikings are currently a -1 favorite against the Chargers.
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