Overview: After last week's shootout in Santa Clara ended the Rams playoff hopes, this game has an anti-climatic feel to it. However, it is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First of all, it will be the Ram's last game at the L.A. Coliseum, where the team played the last three seasons since returning from St. Louis and before that for several years during the team's first incarnation in L.A.
The ghosts of Jack Youngblood and Lawrence McCutcheon will be watching (OK, they are not dead, but you get the point).
Secondly, this will likely be the last game for at least a few current Rams. Eric Weddle, Andrew Whitworth, Dante Fowler, Corey Littleton, possibly Brandin Cooks, and Clay Matthews are among those who may not play for the 2020 Rams. Weddle almost certainly not returning next season, we can hope to retain at least one between linebackers Dante Fowler and Corey Littleton. There are even some reports that Todd Gurley will not be back, although that seems unlikely because his dead cap hit of $25 million would cost more than keeping him at $17 million. An outright release seems unlikely, but we shall see. If the Rams can arrange a "salary dump" trade, as they did with Aquib Talib a few weeks ago, Gurley's departure is a possibility, but we would not bet the farm on it.
Rams Offense vs. Cardinals Defense: The big challenge for the Rams all season has been protecting Jared Goff, and that will be critical again. One key matchup will be Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth against Cardinals edge rusher Chandler Jones. This battle could be personally crucial for Whitworth, who has said he wants to play again in 2020. Big Whit seemed to have lost something early in the year but played much better during the second half of the season. A good outing on Sunday would bide well for continuing his career. A bad game would have the opposite effect.
Some reports indicated that the Rams would have taken a good hard look at rookie running back Darrell Henderson in this game if he were healthy. However, he is out with an ankle injury, so that will not occur. Will the Rams feature Todd Gurley in what is mostly a meaningless game, risking further injury to a player that many suspects is not healthy? Then again, he will have six months to heal, so who knows.
Assuming the Rams can protect Jared Goff, he could have a big day in what has been a suspect Arizona passing defense all season. Rams tight end Tyler Higbee can set an all-time NFL record for most consecutive games with 100 yards receiving by a tight end. His odds look pretty good.
Rams Defense vs. Cardinals Offense: There are so many injuries in this matchup that it is hard to know who will be on the field.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, who has given Arizona fans hope for the future with a strong rookie season, is listed as "questionable." Normally we should expect a player listed that way to play, but whether Arizona wants to expose their future star to a severe injury in a game that does not mean much is an open question. It only takes one hit to change everything. Just ask former Heisman Trophy Winner RGIII, who has never been the same after an injury-marred a promising start to his career as an NFL quarterback.
Jalen Ramsey is out for the Rams with a knee injury, and fellow starting corner Troy Hill also may not play. We may see several other reserves get extended playing time, especially at positions where the current starters may not return, including edge rusher and inside linebacker. That could mean guys like Samson Ebukam and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo could see many snaps.
We are going to check this box for the Rams, but given the number of players on both teams who may not play, that is just a guess.
Special Teams: Yet another Ram who may--or may not--be taking the field for the last time as a member of this team is placekicker Greg Zuerlein, who is a free agent. Johnny Hekker is still the best punter in the NFL, in our opinion. The Rams special teams, in part, have somewhat underperformed this season. They have not been bad but indeed have not dominated as they did in previous years. That is yet another reason the L.A. Rams will be watching the playoffs on tv this season. Maybe they can go out on a high note.
Prediction: Who will play in this game, and how motivated will they be? We get it, these guys are making enormous paychecks to go out and play a game every week, and they owe it to themselves, their teams and the fans to give it a legit effort. Even so, we have to wonder if the Rams will not be a bit flat in the final outing of a disappointing year. Coach McVay has said all week that the team still cares about finishing with a winning record and going out on a high note. Is that coach speak? Do the players feel the same way? We may find out on Sunday. Still, the Rams are the better team.
Rams 30 Cardinals 24
Preview: Maybe this should say "Preview?" because you never know what to expect with this Los Angeles Rams team. When the team that kicked an excellent Seattle Seahawks team all over the field a couple of weeks ago takes the field, they can beat anybody in the NFL. If the team that got blown out in Dallas takes the field, beating the Miami Dolphins might be asking too much. We never know with the 2019 Rams. However, a loss tonight or a Minnesota Vikings win on Monday night against the Green Bay Packers eliminates the Rams from the postseason. We cannot do anything about the Vikings game, but a win tonight at least means the season is not over yet. Besides, beating the San Francisco 49ers is always a joy and a pleasure.
Rams Offense vs. Niners Defense: While the 49ers have a good offense, this is the side of the ball where they are truly elite. In the first meeting between these two teams, San Francisco won the war in the trenches in a big way. Jared Goff was held to a career-low 78 yards passing in 20-7 49ers win that was not as close as the score makes it sound. Todd Gurley missed that game, and he needs to be a factor this evening if Los Angeles is to pull the upset. There has been a consistent pattern this season for the Rams offense. When they run the ball effectively, and TGII gets many touches, they win. When Head Coach Sean McVay channels his inner Mike Martz, and they come out in pass-first mode--as they did last week against Dallas--they usually lose. Rams quarterback Jared Goff has said they ''have something special" for this game. Let us hope it involves a heavy dose of Todd Gurley, whether as a runner or receiver, or better yet, both,
The Rams have a different offensive line than they did in the first meeting, which is probably a good thing. While the new unit was not great last week against Dallas, they have mostly been better than the 0-line that started the season. Old-pro Andrew Whitworth, who is probably playing in the next to last game of his career, had been playing a lot better before last week when he got hit with a couple of crucial flags and generally had an off day. He needs to return to form this week against Niners super-rookie Nick Bosa. The Rams O-line, in general, will be tested by what may be the best defensive front in the NFL. If they can hold their own, Los Angeles can win this game. If not, hello 2020 in terms of any playoff hopes.
One player that has emerged for the Rams in recent weeks is tight-end Tyler Higbee, who has been a monster of late, even notching 111 yards in last week's debacle in Dallas. One of the best counters to a fierce pass is an actual short passing game, and Higbee and Gurley are the guys in this offense who are most able to make that happen.
San Francisco's defense is limping, as Cornerback Richard Sherman expected to play through a hamstring injury, but whether he will be 100 percent remains to be seen. If he is not Rams wideout, Robert Woods could have a big game, assuming Goff can get some time to throw.
The 49ers will be missing linebackers Dee Ford and Julian Taylor and safety Jaquiski Tartt. A bigger question may be whether corners Sherman and K'waun Williams are genuinely healthy.
Rams Defense vs. 49ers Offense: The Rams gave up 263 yards on the ground in Dallas last week, and that cannot happen again if Los Angeles is to have any chance of winning. There are some rumors-unconfirmed at this point--that Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips may not return next season. If there is any truth to the idea that he might not be back, how the Rams D performs in this game could play a critical factor in that decision.
The funny thing about that is that this unit has mostly been pretty good, but when they have been wrong (as last week or against the Ravens), they have been just awful. We have rarely seen as weak an effort at tackling as what this team exhibited last week, and fixing that issue is job one in this game. The arm tackling and generally lackluster attempts at bringing down opposing call carriers that we saw last week cannot continue. This unit, in general, looked dispirited and lethargic. Let us hope that being embarrassed on national television by a Dallas team that came in with a losing record wakes them up. It better, or we may not see Wade on the sidelines in 2020, and we can forget about the playoffs this season.
The 49ers have the second-ranked rushing attack in the league, and unlike the first meeting between these two teams, San Francisco will have both of their tackles, Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, will start. Staley is the San Francisco version of Andrew Whitworth--past his prime, but still better than most left tackles in the game. Rams edge rusher Dante Fowler will try to take advantage of Staley is one of the more significant matchups in this game.
While San Francisco is a run-first team, they also have probably the best tight end in the game in George Kittle. Rams safety Taylor Rapp will try to contain Kittle.
We cannot talk about the Rams defense without mentioning Aaron Donald, so we just mentioned him. He will no doubt see his usual double and even triple teams, something he is used to, and that does not always shut him down by any means. When AD gets loose, bad things happen for opposing offenses. When he does not, it is up to the rest of this defense to win their matchups. Of course, despite seeing multiple blockers, Aaron Donald can and often does take over a game like no other defender in the modern NFL can take over a game all by himself. If he goes on a rampage in this game, the Rams will probably win, assuming they can put a few points on the board.
WE probably should check this box for San Francisco, but NOT going to play a hunch here and hope the Rams defense is angry after being embarrassed last week in front of the entire country. They certainly should be.
If they cannot get up to play their best game of the season against Public Enemy Number One in a do-or-die game, something is seriously wrong here.
Special Teams: As if the Rams do not have enough problems, kicker Greg Zuerlein has been battling a quadriceps injury all week. That is not good news.
Prediction: It is hard to see how the Rams win this game on paper. We probably should pick San Francisco, but there are some things we will not do. So we are going to go with our heart over our head
Rams 27 Niners 24
(In Vegas, with our head making the decisions, it would be Niners 37, Rams 24 )
Overview: Once again, the Los Angeles Rams face a "must-win" game. For the second consecutive week, the smart money in Vegas has been moving towards the Los Angeles Rams. At the start of the week, the Dallas Cowboys opened up as a 2.5 point favorite. However, the line since has moved in favor of the Rams by 1.5 on the road. We believe the Rams should win this game; however, there are reasons to be concerned. The Cowboys is a talented team that seems to add up to less than the sum of its parts. Is that because of coaching, as many believe? Bad luck? Poor teamwork? It is hard to say, but this is not a team to take lightly. Dallas has been in free fall in recent weeks, but like the Rams, they are in '' must-win" fashion. They have also had over a week to try to live down from a nationally televised embarrassing loss to Buffalo Bills last Thursday. The Rams, meanwhile, have been wildly inconsistent all season. Can they put together their third strong performance in a row? We will see.
Rams Offense vs. Dallas Defense: The Cowboys will be without their best linebacker, Leighton Vander Esch, which potentially is a huge deal. Even more so because his top backup, Sean Lee, is questionable with an injury. Lee will probably play, but how well is always the question in these situations. The Rams of late have been featuring Todd Gurley, and an injured Cowboy linebacking crew does not make containing TGII any easier. The Rams have finally gone to a balanced game plan on offense, which has opened up the play-action pass and the downfield passing game in general. They have to do that again on Sunday.
At this point, there is no point in saving Todd Gurley. For the Rams, this is essentially a playoff game.
The Rams offensive line has been much better in recent weeks, and they will need to continue that trend on Sunday in Dallas. Andrew Whitworth has been playing better recently at left tackle for the Rams, and he will match up against former Ram Robert Quinn in this game. Meanwhile, rookie tackle Bobby Evans will (probably) match up against DeMarcus Lawrence on the other side, with Rob Havenstein listed as doubtful at right tackle (it is not at all sure that Havenstein would start even if he were healthy). Evans has been a significant factor in the Rams offensive resurgence, battling players like Khalil Mack, Terrel Suggs, Mathew Judon, and Jadeveon Clowney and more than holding his own, albeit with some help at times.
If Whitworth and Evans can at least hold their ground in this game, quarterback Jared Goff can have a big day. Goff is deadly when he has time to throw and some semblance of a running game. When those things do not occur, he is not the same guy, and the Rams often lose.
The Rams receiving a trio of Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, and Cooper Kupp will test the depth of most NFL secondaries, and this week is no exception. Woods has been the hot hand lately, but each of these guys has their skillset, and they can all take over a game on a given Sunday. Expect the Rams offense to stack their receivers at the line of scrimmage, and use much motion (which they do) to free Kupp up against Jourdan Lewis. Lewis likes to press at the line of scrimmage. If the Rams can get Kupp free from press coverage, he could have a big day.
These days we cannot mention the Rams offense without mentioning Tight end Tyler Higbee, who has come into his own in recent weeks. Covering Higbee and the Rams wide receivers, not to mention Todd Gurley out of the backfield, is a challenge for any offense, especially one whose best linebacker will not play. That makes the battle in the trenches in this game even more critical.
The Cowboys have to pressure Jared Goff, or the Rams could light up the scoreboard in this game. If Dallas can pressure Goff and contain the Rams running game, they have a good chance of winning this critical game.
Rams defense vs. Dallas offense: We know how Rams corner Jalen Ramsey likes to trash talk and bad-mouth opponents? We have not been hearing any of that this week regarding Amari Cooper. He has called Cowboys receiver Cooper "elite" (which he is). The Ramsey vs. Cooper matchup is one worthy of the pro bowl, except it is even better because, in this case, both players care about winning, which is usually not the case in the Pro-Bowl. If Dallas can make some big plays downfield to Cooper, they can win this game, assuming the Cowboy defense does its job. If not, have to like the Rams chances.
The other guy we have to contain on defense by the Rams is, of course, Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot has had something on an off-year so far, in part because Dallas cannot seem to decide whether they are a passing or running team from week to week. However, Elliot is one of the best backs in the league, and he is the kind of guy who can take over a game on any given week. Rams inside linebacker Cory Littleton, meanwhile, is having another high season, establishing himself as one of the best inside linebackers in the league. He needs to play well on Sunday, including keeping Elliot's yards after contact to a minimum when he is tackling the former Ohio State star.
The next major point will be Aaron Donald, Dak Prescott's worst nightmare. We are old enough to have seen Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor, and when AD is on his game, he approaches that level of dominance. Even when he is not sacking the quarterback, he is a disruptive force, living in the backfield and causing problems for opposing offenses. The unenviable task of stopping Donald this week falls to Xavier Su'a-Filo, who forced into starting when starting left guard Conner Williams went down with an MCL injury.
Of course, the Cowboys are not going to be dumb enough to leave Su'a-Filo alone on AD very often, so expect center Travis Frederick and tackle Tyron Smith (who are both excellent) to lend a hand. That, of course, leaves other Rams players, including people like Dante Fowler, Clay Matthews, Micheal Brockers, and others, with potential one-on-one battles. They need to win at least some of those matchups in this game.
Prescott is like Jared Goff in the sense that he can be dangerous when he has time to throw, but he does not like pressure. The Rams have been blitzing a lot more since acquiring Jalen Ramsey, and we can probably expect to see more of that on Sunday.
Special Teams: Neither team has done much in the return game. Nsimba Webster, filling in for the injured JoJo Natson, averaged -1 yards returning punts last week against the Seahawks. Greg Zuerlein has a field goal attempt blocked. Johnny Hekker did have a good week, averaging around 50 yards per punt. The Rams special teams just have not lived up to their expectations this season overall. Nevertheless, Dallas has had its problems as well and gave the boot recently to placekicker Brett Maher, who had missed on 10 FG/extra-point attempts this season.
We will check this box for the Rams, but it is a concern for both teams.
Prediction: This score could be almost anything, and either team could win. However, based on recent trends, we have to like the Rams.
Rams 31 Dallas 27
OVERVIEW: Once again, the Los Angeles Rams face a "must-win" game, as they all are at this point if the Rams are to make the playoffs this season. Once again, the Rams face a run-oriented offense featuring a highly mobile quarterback. Russell Wilson is a legit MVP candidate and is the driving force behind a Seattle Seahawks offense that is relatively average in overall talent aside from him. The odds of this game have taken an unusual path this week. The Seahawks opened as a 2.5 point favorite; however, oddsmakers have it dead even. Perhaps the Rams as 1.5 point favorites, depending on whom we listen from on this line making. Do they know something?
Rams Defense vs. Seattle Offense: One of the big battles upfront will feature Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald against Seahawks guard Mike Iupati. The last thing Seattle wants is Aaron Donald renewing his up close and personal relationship with Russell Wilson, not to mention disrupting the Seattle running game. While Wilson is one of the most elusive quarterbacks in the game, Donald has had big days against him in the past. The Rams need that to continue on Sunday night.
Another crucial battle will feature Rams outside linebacker Dante Fowler against Seattle left-tackle Duane Brown. Fowler had emerged this season as the player people thought he was a few years ago when he was drafted high in the first round by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Brown is among the best left tackles in the game, and the outcome of this battle could be huge, especially if the Rams can get a lead and force Seattle to throw the ball.
Seattle features a run-first offense, and running backs Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson present a formidable two-headed monster. Penny, selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft from San Diego State University, is surprisingly fast for a big man (224 pounds). In recent weeks, Penny rushed for 129 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles a couple of weeks ago, and he is also a viable receiver out of the backfield. Carson, meanwhile, is the sort of physical, downhill runner that Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll loves. When Carson is at his best, he breaks tackles and runs over defenders for extra yardage after contact. The Rams need to tackle and wrap him upon initial contact, or it could be a long night for the home team.
When Seattle does go to the air, Rams corners Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill need to at least control Seattle wideouts Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. Trying to defend the Seahawks offense can be especially challenging because Wilson can buy extra time with his feet. When it comes to eluding the pass rush and giving his receivers extra time, Russell Wilson is the best in the game,
Trying to say which team has the edge in this battle is hard because the Rams defense is so erratic, and we do not know what to expect. If we throw out meltdowns against the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this is one of the league's better units. Both of those were terrible outings that occurred at home, which is a concern, and the Seahawks offense is similar in some ways to that of Baltimore, although Wilson is probably not the pure runner such as Raven's Lamar Jackson. Nevertheless, the Rams have their backs to the wall and know Seattle's offense very well, so we will hope for the best.
Rams Offense vs. Seahawk Defense: Which Todd Gurley will we see on Sunday night? Maybe a better question is which Sean McVay, play-caller, we will see. The one who calls 10 or 12 running plays and 40 or so passes, or the one who oversees a balanced offense and gives TGII lots of touches? We hope we see the second one because when we do, the Rams usually win.
McVay himself says the lack of action seen by Gurley in some games is due to his [McVay's] ''being an idiot."
At last report, Ram's right tackle Rob Havenstein listed as doubtful for this game with a knee injury. Even if he were healthy, it is not sure he would start in this game, as rookie Bobby Evans has outplayed Havenstein so far in 2019. Evans is a bright spot in what has been a somewhat disappointing season. It is not like he has been facing off against a bunch of weaklings either, as he has battled Khalil Mack and Chandler Jones. Evans faces another challenge this week in Seahawks defensive end Jadaveon Clowney. While Clowney is officially listed as "questionable'' for this game, it would be a big surprise if he does not play. Clowney only has three sacks, but that is deceptive. Much Like Aaron Donald, he can wreak havoc even when he does not get credit for a sack. He is easily Seattle's best pass rusher and can blow up running plays as well. Asking a rookie tackle to contain him is asking a lot.
The Rams got a big game last week from wide receiver Robert Woods and tight end Tyler Higbee, while wide receiver Cooper Kupp has a chance to crack 1,000 yards receiving in this game. They probably need at least decent production from two of those three in this game. Meanwhile, Seattle features middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, one of the top two (along with the Panthers Luke Kuechly) at his position in the NFL. Furthermore, while the ''Legion of Boom" is no more, the Seahawks secondary is still outstanding, especially corner Tre Flowers and safety Bradley McDougald.
Special Teams: The Rams special teams have not been very special for much of this season, and kick returner JoJo Natson is out. Darrell Henderson probably replaces him or Nsimba Webster, who was excellent in the pre-season. Which team has the edge here? Who knows?
Prediction: The schizophrenic nature of the Rams and the fact that these two teams almost always have tough, physical games makes this game a tough call. The Rams need to control the Seattle running game and at least break even in the turnover battle. If they can do those things...easier said than done..they can win. They better if they have any playoff hopes at all.
Rams 31 Seattle 30
Ed "Pi Double I" Henderson
Jared Goff, the starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, named Week 13 NFL Player of the Week for excellent performance against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Goff put on a show in the desert by throwing for over 300-yards in the first half. (Full Story Later)
Overview: This game may tell us a lot about the character of the 2019 Los Angeles Rams. Following a debacle of a performance Monday night in a blow out loss to the Ravens, will we see an angry team that is out to prove they are not the listless, beaten group we seemed to see on Monday night? Or will we see a team that is just mailing in a season that they would probably like to forget at this point? We will see on Sunday afternoon. The Arizona Cardinals can win this game make no mistake. They are better than their record would indicate, and they came very close to beating the 10-1 San Francisco 49ers recently
Rams Defense vs. Cardinals Offense: The Rams defense in 2019 has been a real Jekyll and Hyde unit. If we take away the Ravens and Bucs games (and we wish we could), they have been outstanding, one of the better defenses in the league. However, they are coming off of a terrible game on Monday night in which they could not stop a nosebleed. The challenge this week will be another highly mobile quarterback. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is listed as questionable going into this game with a hamstring injury, but he practiced on Friday, and it would be a shock if he did not play on Sunday. His mobility hampered, but the Rams cannot count on that. Murray has had a good year, justifying his selection as the top overall pick in the 2019 draft with a 91.2 passer rating and 418 yards rushing. Unlike many rookies, he has not been a turnover machine either, throwing only five picks vs. 14 touchdowns. Like the Ravens Lamar Jackson, the Cardinals will feature Murray on some designed running plays, assuming the hamstring injury is not a huge issue. Did the Rams learn anything about how to counter a running quarterback after giving up 111 yards rushing to Jackson on Monday night? Let us hope so, or it could be another long day for Rams fans.
Murray sacked 35 times, and his offensive line is not high, so this could be a good day for Aaron Donald, Dante Fowler, and Clay Matthews. That is even more likely if Murray's hamstring is a problem.
Even with Murray running for 418 yards (a lot for an NFL quarterback at this point in the season), the Cardinals are the only middle of the pack in team rushing, checking in at number 15. Part of the problem is that running back David Johnson, who not long ago was considered the Cardinals "bellcow" as a runner, has only a little over 300 yards. Chase Edmonds has logged 295 yards on the ground for Arizona, and while he has been battling injuries, he is expected to play on Sunday. Former Dolphin Kenyan Drake has 374 yards, second only to Murray on the team. The Cardinals employ a committee approach to running the ball, and while Murray might be the scariest threat, these guys as a group are reasonably valid.
We cannot talk about the Arizona Cardinals offense without mentioning the great Larry Fitzgerald at wide receiver. That is not just an honorary mention either, as the future Hall of Famer has 55 receptions for 593 yards. (leading the team in that category). Fitzgerald will probably see a lot of Rams corners Troy Hill and Nickel Robey-Coleman in this game. Fitz will not run away from many people at this stage in his career (he was never a real "burner"), but he holds a 4-inch height advantage over Hill and 7 inches over Robey-Coleman and can still catch just about anything thrown his way. Murray may look Fitzgerald's way on third down and in the end zone, hoping to use his height advantage and knowledge in crucial situations.
The other primary receiving threat for Arizona is Christian Kirk, who has over 500 yards receiving and gets many targets from Murray. He will probably see a lot of Jalen Ramsey in this game, and that should be a good matchup of physically-gifted players and one that could determine the outcome of this game. Ramsey will be under the spotlight, following his altercation with former Ram Marcus Peters following Monday's loss to Baltimore. Ramsey physically restrained from going after Peters (after the game), who allegedly yelled Ramsey's name towards the Rams sidelines after picking off a Jared Goff pass.
It is hard to know what Ram's defense will show up from week to week. We are going to hope for the best in this one.
Rams Offense vs. Arizona Defense: On paper, the Rams should be able to put up points on the Cardinals defense, but at this point, who knows? The biggest disappointment of what has been a very disappointing season for the Los Angeles Rams is the offense, which has gone from being elite to not-very-good in a short time. The Cardinals are rated 31st in team defense, despite the presence of two of the league's better players in cornerback Patrick Peterson and linebacker Chandler Jones.
In fairness, Peterson served an eight-game suspension, so the defense that takes the field on Sunday will be noticeably better than the unit the Cardinals have fielded for most of the year.
The Rams can still move the ball through the air, coming in ranked as the 7th rated passing attack in the league. Peterson will likely be locked up on Rams receiver Robert Woods most of the time, and that should be a good battle if both players are at the top of their game.
Jones will hope to take advantage of rookie tackle Bobby Evans, who has been better than expected in his two previous starts. At this point, the Rams have to be thinking about how to fix their dreadful offensive line for 2020, and so far, Evans looks like a guy who could be part of the solution. He has more than held his own in his first two starts, including a battle with the Bears' Khalil Mack a couple of weeks ago. However, Jones will present a severe test, coming into this game with 12.5 sacks. We do not know whether the Rams will try to get Evans some help against Jones, but the last thing Jared Goff needs in this game is a steady diet of Chandler Jones in his backfield.
So what is the deal with Todd Gurley and the Rams running game? It is week 13, and we still do not know if Gurley is injured or the victim of poor blocking and questionable play-calling. Gurley looked like his old self two weeks ago against the Bears, racking up 133 yards from scrimmage. However, on Monday night against the Ravens, he virtually disappeared. The Rams overall only ran the ball nine times, and two of those were desperation runs by Jared Goff. A play call balance of 9 runs versus 37 passes, as we saw on Monday night, is not a formula for success in the NFL.
Yes, they were behind for the entire game, but if Chandler Jones and the Cardinals defense know they can forget about stopping the run on Sunday and tee off on Goff (as other teams have been able to do this season), the Rams may take another "L'' on Sunday.
By the way, what has happened to Cooper Kupp? He looked like an all-pro over the first nine games of the season and has suddenly been silent over the last three games. The Rams need him back
We will go ahead check this box for the Rams, but the offense is such a question mark right now that it is hard to know who has the edge. We will hope for a bounce-back for the Rams and play the optimist.
Edge: Rams (we hope)
Special Teams: Johnny Hekker and Greg Zuerlein are still probably the best kicking duo in the NFL. The Rams special teams have certainly had some lapses this season, but we still give them the edge in this game.
Prediction: 2.5 points favor the Rams in this game, but who knows what we will see on Sunday. There is an old rule in football that we should never bet against a good team coming off of a bad game. Monday's outing for the Rams was undoubtedly a bad game. Are they still a good team? We may find out on Sunday.
Rams 30 Cardinals 24