Rams vs. Colts Preview
Overview: Interesting matchup of a couple of potential playoff teams. The Rams are coming off of a resounding win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday night. As is often the case with Rams victories, the game was close for a half before the Rams pulled away for a 20-point win. The Colts, meanwhile, were shredded by Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in an opening day loss. This game is big for them, as no one ever wants to start a season 0-2. A win over the Rams would also give Indy credibility as a legit playoff contender.
Oddsmakers have the Rams favored by thee on the road.
Rams Defense vs. Colts Offense: The matchup of Rams D-lineman Aaron Donald—widely considered the best defensive player in the game, if not the best player period—against Colts All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson alone makes this game an intriguing one. If you are a football purist who loves the battle in the trenches, this should be a treat, assuming it happens. Nelson missed practice this week with a back injury but has indicated he will play on Sunday. Nelson is arguably the best guard in the NFL, so this could be a great battle if he is at full strength. It's potentially the best one-on-one battle you will see in the NFL in 2021.
Colt's offensive line should have concerns and issues. Right-tackle Braden Smith is out, and left tackle Eric Fisher is questionable with an Achilles injury. You don't want to face this Rams defensive front with both tackles out, so that could be a huge deal.
Colts running back Jonathon Taylor needs a big day for Indy. The one negative in the Rams win last week against the Bears was the rush defense, gashed for over 100 yards by Chicago running back David Montgomery. Indy can win this game if Taylor can have a big day, and the Colts can keep the explosive Rams offense on the sidelines.
Outside linebacker Justin Hollins had a big day last week for the Rams, including a pair of sacks. Meanwhile, the Rams deployed top cornerback Jalen Ramsey all over the field, including matching up with the Bears' tight ends on occasion. It will be interesting to see if defensive coordinator Raheem Morris follows that game plan again on Sunday.
Colts quarterback Carson Wentz had decent numbers on paper last week, throwing for 251 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't do as well by the "eyeball' test, though, as he tended to look a little sluggish and overmatched on the field. He threw 15 picks in 2020 despite being supplanted as the starter for Philly by Jalen Hurts late in the season. Two of those came against the Rams, including an interception in the end zone that stopped a Philly drive.
He can't turn the ball over on Sunday, or this could get ugly.
Wentz knows both the Rams and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris from his days in Philly. Of course, that also means they know him. If this turns into a shootout, we like Ram's chances in this game. But if Indy can run the ball, avoid turnovers and play positional football, the Colts may well notch their first win of the season.
Rams Offense vs. Eagles Defense: The Colts don't necessarily have great edge rushers, but they do have one of the game's best defensive tackles not named Aaron Donald. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who notched 9.5 sacks last season and was named First-team All-Pro Buckner, regularly terrorized the Rams as a member of the 49ers from 2016-2019. He can be a big problem, and the Rams know it.
The job of containing him will fall to center Brian Allen and guard Austin Corbett. We had concerns about Allen last week, and they said so. He proved us wrong, playing so well that he was singled out for praise by Rams coach Sean McVay. He needs another strong performance on Sunday. Matt Stafford's inside pressure will rattle him so that this battle could be a key to the game.
The Colts will be without their best corner in Xavier Rhodes. That's all the more reason why Indy needs to generate some pressure upfront. One of the reasons the Rams got Matt Stafford in the off-season was his ability to throw the deep ball. We saw it last week in long touchdowns to Van Jefferson and Cooper Kupp, and the Colts don't want a repeat if they are to win on Sunday.
The Ram running game was dormant last week until late in the game, when Darrel Henderson showed some flashes and helped cinch the win. Overall, the running game was just OK, and Los Angeles would like a little more on the ground so that the play-action passes that are a big part of their offense can click.
Will we see more of Sony Michel at running back last week?
Special teams: Rams kicker Matt Gay was very well last week. Punter Johnny Hekker was decent in limited action. The Rams kickoff coverage was not great, though, which is something they want to work on.
We aren't necessarily a fan of having Cooper Kupp as a punt returner either. First of all, we don't want to see him injured. But we also don't love his work as a return man so far, including appearances in that role last season.
The Colt's special teams were outstanding in 2020. With only one regular-season game under their belt, we don't know if that will hold this season. But we are going to check this box for Indy.
Coaching: Colt's headman Frank Reich, is a good NFL coach with a very competent staff. But giving Sean McVay the kind of tools he appears to have on offense this season could be scary.
Final Prediction: Colts legends Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James will be at this game. The Colts are also playing at home, and while this isn't a "must win' game, it's undoubtedly a "really want to win" game.
We think the Rams have a little better team, and talent usually wins in the NFL.
Rams 30 Colts 24