RAMS (8-4) vs PATRIOTS (6-6)
When: Thursday 5.20 pm
True: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood
TV / radio: Fox (Chapter 11), 710 am, 1:30 pm (Spanish)
Line: Ram with 5
Notable Injuries: Ramming: K Matt Gay (shoulder) is questionable; RB Cam Akers (shoulder), DE Michael Brockers (neck) and LB Terrell Lewis (knee) returned to full practice on Wednesday and Akers and Brockers were expected to play. Patriots: Long list of “questionable” players includes QB Cam Newton (belly), CB JC Jackson (hip, knee), DT Lawrence Guy (shoulder) and K Nick Folk (back).
What is at stake? Winning would keep the Rams in first place in the NFC West (and third in the NFC playoff seedings); losing would bring them back to second (and fifth). Winning would be an ego boost for Sean McVay, whose team was outwitted by Bill Belichick’s Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.
Who is better? The rams. But the Patriots have gone 4-1 since a 2-5 start to their first season without Tom Brady since 2000. The advantage seems huge for the LA defense over the New England offense, unless quarterback Cam Newton and running back Damien Harris making the Pats ground game. To go.
Rams win if: If their running game is solid on early downs, limiting the pass rush on Jared Goff … If Goff makes good decisions with the ball against the team with cornerback JC Jackson (7 interceptions) … If the special teams are solid after Matt Gay missed a short field goal and kick reminder Nsimba Webster rumbled against Arizona.
Matchup to watch: Sean McVay to Bill Belichick. McVay looks back at the Super Bowl 13-3 loss to Belichick and the Patriots two years ago as “a very humiliating night for myself”. The coach of the Rams great track record in rematches with teams that beat him will be put to the test against this coach.
Fantasy sleeper: Darrell Henderson. Cam Akers is expected to play, but Henderson should get more carry if the rookie’s shoulder constrains him. The patriots’ defense is average against the run.
Prediction: Rams 24, Patriots 20. It should be the Rams’ second-placed defense running day – or night – in this Super Bowl rematch, as long as Goff and the special teams avoid the mistakes that have surfaced at inopportune times this season.