By: David Dzienis
The Patriots are getting hot at the right time of year. At least, that’s what our own Zach Kurtz would like to believe. Realistically, they barely beat the Jets, won a one score game against the faltering Ravens, lost to the surging Texans, and barely escaped against a banged-up Kyler Murray led Cardinals. Of course, this last week was a completely different story although Bill Belichick does have a history of scheming up masterpieces against rookie quarterbacks. This week’s showdown with the Rams will be a much better measuring stick for New England.
The Rams on the other hand may be in the most over-rated division in football. Some consider the combination of the Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams, and 49ers as the toughest division around this season. The 49ers have the excuse of being one of the most injured teams of the year, but Seattle and Arizona are faltering down the stretch and need to pick up their play if they are going to represent this division. Of course, they all do still have games against either the Jets or the NFC East, but the East is suddenly looking more competitive and the Jets aren’t looking like the pushover they were earlier this year.
The main thing to watch for in this match is the 3rd ranked Patriots rushing attack facing the Rams 3rd ranked rushing defense. Cam Newton is proving to still be one of the most mobile QB’s in the game despite age. With a healthy Sony Michel back and the explosive Damien Harris, this offense is averaging over 150 rushing yards per game. On the other side of the ball, Aaron Donald and company are allowing just over 90 yards a game. The former defensive player of the year is also second in the league with 11 sacks. If neither of these units dominate, the Patriots may need to rely on Newton’s arm to get the job done. New England has yet to prove they have a passing attack however and throwing into a Jalen Ramsey led unit is always dangerous.
The New England defense still has 6 players from the Super Bowl where they held the Sean McVay offense to a field goal. While Belichick is a master of schemes these Rams are sure to want revenge for that game. Cooper Kupp, who was injured for that game, is who they will look to for the difference. Robert Woods and Kupp is still one of the most exciting WR duos in football. Add in the 3-pronged rushing attack of Cam Akers, Malcolm Brown, and Darrell Henderson and this offense has a ton of weapons. The Patriots defense is going to be hard pressed to contain them all and will need to force Jared Goff into some turnovers to help their offense.
N.E. 20- L.A.R. 24
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