The Patriots remain in Los Angeles after their win over the Chargers and take on the Rams on Thursday Night Football. With a win, they can go over .500 for the first time since Week 3.
This week’s game will be broadcast by Fox on Thursday, December 10 at 8:20 PM ET and can be seen locally on WFXT Channel 25. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties with Troy Aikman as the color analyst. Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.
The Patriots have met the Rams 14 times since 1974 with New England holding a 9-5 lead including two Super Bowl wins during the Bill Belichick era.
The last time the Patriots met the Rams was in Super Bowl LIII in Rob Gronkowski’s last game in a Patriots uniform and the Pats taking home the Lombardi. It was the Patriots’ 6th Super Bowl title.
The Patriots (6-6) beat the Chargers 45-0 as they got impressive performances from all three units. Gunner Olszewski returned a punt 70 for a touchdown and also scored on a 38-yard pass from Jarrett Stidham. Devin McCourty returned a blocked FG 44 yards for another TD. Cam Newton scored two rushing TDs and threw a TD pass to N’Keal Harry.
The Rams (8-4) beat the Arizona Cardinals 38-28 as Jared Goff threw for 351 yards and a touchdown. The defense held Kyler Murray to just 173 yards passing.
We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2020 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out. So, here is our look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.
First up is the Patriots offense:
Patriots RBs vs Rams Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots running game has to be able to run the ball to be successful. Damien Harris has been the go-to guy with Sony Michel and James White also getting work. Cam Newton has been chipping in with more designed runs as well.
The Rams run defense has been stout, allowing on 93 yards per game and only 3.9 yards per rush. They are led by the outstanding Aaron Donald. He’s flanked on the line with Michael Brockers and Sebastian Joseph-Day.
In talking with one of the most knowledgeable Pats beat writers, Evan Lazar of CLNS Media on our 4th & 2 podcast this week, he made the observation that the Rams play in either nickel or dime defenses a whopping 86 percent of the time. If they continue with that type of defense, then the Patriots offensive line may be able to create some holes for the running backs to run.
Patriots WRs vs Rams Secondary – Razor’s Edge Los Angeles
The Patriots’ passing game is facing a very tough Rams pass defense (3rd in the NFL) which allows only 5.5 yards per pass and 198 yards per game. They have a very solid secondary with Jalen Ramsey, Troy Hill, John Johnson, and Jordan Fuller. With Donald and Leonard Floyd providing pressure on opposing QBs, they can severely hamper an opposing offense from getting into any kind of rhythm.
If the Patriots fall behind and are forced to throw, it will be a long evening. But if the running game can get untracked this week then look for Josh McDaniels to throw some play-action passing into the game plan. Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd will have their work cut out for them. They will need to get Harry and the tight ends involved to move the chains. Getting solid gains on first down will be key this week if the offense is going to be successful.
Next up the Rams offense:
Rams RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England
The Rams are tied for 4th in the league running the football and have a true running back by committee with Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown, and rookie Cam Akers all running effectively. The Rams offense is based on running the ball and stretching the plays out on the edge.
The Patriots’ run defense has been much improved in recent weeks. Lawrence Guy’s return and the emergence of Adam Butler, Deatrich Wise Jr., and Akeem Spence have greatly solidified things in the middle while the linebackers with secondary support have been much better at setting the edge.
In the SB, the Rams constantly tried to get their running game going to the outside, which the Patriots did a good of stuffing. Look for the Rams to switch things up and try running between the tackles. But the Patriots’ late resurgence will slow down the running game enough to get the nod here.
Rams WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge Los Angeles
The passing game of the Rams runs through Jared Goff and when he’s on, he’s one of the more dangerous QBs in the league. Last week he torched the Cardinals completing 37 of 47 passes for 351 yards and a TD as the Rams rolled easily. Everything is based on rhythm and timing and the coaches like to run him on play-action bootlegs and use the short passing game.
LA is deep at wide receiver with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, and Van Jefferson. Goff has good tight ends in Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee.
The health of the Patriots secondary this week is of primary concern. J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones are banged up and if they can’t go on a short week, then it will be difficult for the Patriots secondary to match up. It will be interesting to see how aggressive the coaches get with the pass rush this week. It is imperative that they pressure Goff and force him to get rid of the ball quickly and force him into making some mistakes.
Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots’ STs have been absolutely rolling the past two weeks. Nick Folk has made 20 FGs in a row. Jake Bailey has been outstanding all year. The coverage units are solid. And the team is getting excellent production from the return game the past two weeks.
The Rams STs units with the exception of outstanding punter Johnny Hekker have been near the bottom of the league (30th in DVOA). Matt Gay is the team’s third kicker of the season. Look for the Patriots to continue their recent special teams surge.
Next up, who wins and why…
The Patriots have won four of their past five games and with a win can move over .500 for the first time since late September in Week 3. The Rams are in 1st place in the NFC West and are looking to maintain that and prepare for a postseason run. It will be interesting to see which team reacts better to having a short week to prepare.
Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:
More Creative Play Run Calling – The Patriots offense has to run the ball to be effective. Last week, Josh McDaniels showed the Chargers several different formations and looks in the running game. If the Rams play their typical lighter looks in the run defense, the offensive line will have to assert its will. Newton will have to be a bigger part of the running game down the stretch.
Pressure Goff and Put Him as the Focus – The Patriots got after Kyler Murray and then Justin Herbert last week. This week they must get after Goff and bring pressure and influence the passing game by forcing him into mistakes and getting rid of the ball early. Last week against the Cardinals, the Rams were running an empty backfield with 5 WRs. If they run that, the Patriots should blitz (another good tidbit from the Lazar podcast).
Special Teams – The Patriots got outstanding STs play last week, and are facing a team that isn’t good on STs. If they can get a boost or two from their ST units, they may be in a good position to steal one on the road.
This is a tough matchup and with the injuries in the secondary, it could create problems for the defense. I think the offense may struggle to put up points in this one. But it will be close and go down to the wire. Rams 24-20
Posted Under: 2020 NFL Season
Tags: Aaron Donald Bill Belichick Cam Newton Cooper Kupp Damien Harris James White Jared Goff Johnny Hekker Josh reynolds LA Rams Leonard Floyd New England Patriots NFL Patriots edge rushers Robert Woods Sony Michel Stephon Gilmore