Setting the Stage
Rams got cold-cocked by the Ravens, Monday night 45 to 6 . To a Cardinal fan - Raven offense spearheaded by their young, dual-threat QB Lamar Jackson "reminds us of us." An indirect benefit to the Cardinals may be that the national media attention focused on Jackson will take the pressure off Kyler Murray - in fact, from a national standpoint, Murray - despite his stellar play - has been flying well beneath the proverbial radar.
Going into this season, the Rams were front runners in the NF- West division; but for some mysterioud reason, they've lost the sheen off their mojo and have been consistently undressed by rival Niners and Seahawks. (Those close to the scene point fingers at Post Super Bowl Hangover).
Question of the week: "Are the Cards (who lost narrowly twice to the Niners) better than most experts think they are?"(And are the Rams that bad)? Also - are the Rams coming off Monday - more familiar with the Kyler Murray-led Cardinal offense because it's similar to what they faced last Monday in Baltimore?
Even more burning question - Will Rams take out their recent disappointments on the Cardinals? Or will they continue to play mediocre ball for the remainder of the season?
Most Recent Game
Baltimore pasted 14 first quarter points on the Rams and never looked back. They opened up a 28 - 6 Halftime lead and expanded it to 35 - 0 heading into the 4Q before adding 10 final points to cement the 45 - 6 victory.
Raven QB Lamar Jackson threw 5 TD passes...Ravens generated 285 rushing yards. Ram runnners gained just 22...Ravens racked up 17 rushing first downs. Rams picked up 2...Jackson completed 15 of 20 passing attempts for 169 yd and a QB Rating of 139.4...Jared Goff completed 26 of 37 attempts for 212 yds, Goff was picked off twice and was sacked 2 times, He was held to a QBR of 62.0...Raven QB's (Jackson and RG-III) were sacked 3 times.
Rams only ran the ball 9 times (Todd Gurley led Ram RBs with 22 ground yards on 6 carries...
Myers won it for Seattle after Wilson got the Seahawks into position with an 18-yard scramble on third-and-3...Leading Ram receivers were Cooper Kupp (6 catches of 10 tartgets)...Robert Woods (6 of 9) and Tyler Higbee (5 of 6).
Sam Koch racked up 44 average punting yards (vs. 28.8 yds for Johnny Hekker).
On defense - Corey Littleton led Ram tacklers with 12 followed by Tyler Rapp with 10, Eric Weddle (9) and Brockers and Ekuban *8 tackles each). Brockers was credited with a sack. Ekuban picked up 1.5 sacks.
Balt - TD - M Brown fr Jackson - 6 Yds - Ravens 7 - Rams 0
Balt - TD - M Brown fr Jackson - 18 yds - Ravens 14 - Rams 0
FIRST QUARTER SCORE: Ravens 14 - Rams 0
LA - FG -Zuerlein - 32 Yds - Ravens 14 - Rams 3
Balt TD - Ingram - 1 Yd run - Ravens 21 - Rams 3
LA - FG -Zuerlein - 46 Yds - Ravens 21 - Rams 6
Balt - TD - Snead fr Jackson - 7 yds - Ravens 28 - Rams 6
2ND QUARTER SCORE: SF - Ravens 28 - Rams 6
Balt - TD Ingram - 7 yd pass fr Jackson - Ravens 35 - Rams 6
3RD QUARTER SCORE: Ravens 35 - Rams 6
Balt - TD - Snead - 7 Yds pass fr Jackson - Ravens 42 - Rams 6
Balt - FG Tucker 34 Yds - Ravens 45 - Rams 6
4th QUARTER SCORE: Ravens 45 - Rams 6
Rams in a Nutshell
Rams losing average Time of Possession battle 27:45 to 32.14. Gurley hasn't lived up to expectation spearheading the running game...Goff and his receivers haven't lived up to preseason hype.
QB ...16 Goff...05 Bortles
HB....30 Gurley...34 M Brown...27 Henderson
WR...18 Kupp...19 Natson
WR ..12 Cooks...88 M Thomas
WR...17 Woods...83 Reynolds...14 Webster
TE...89 Higbee...81 Everett...82 Mundt
LT....77 Whitworth...67 Brewer
OC...66 Blythe...65 Shelton
RG...73 Edwards...64 Demby
RT.....79 Havenstein...71 Evans
Defensive Interior Line
LDE - 97 Z Allen...90 Bullard...
NT - 98 Peters, 92 Kerr
RDE - 95 Gunter, 91 Dogbe
SAM - 55 C Jones...45 Robertson
ILB - ..43 Reddick...59 Walker
MLB - 58 Hicks, 42 Gardeck...47 Z Turner
WILL - 56 Suggs, 54 Marsh Sr
RCB - 33 Murphy.....27 K Peterson
LCB - 21 P Peterson...20 Brock...25 C Jones.
SS - 34 J Thompson...35 D Thompson
FS - 32 Baker...38 Banjo... 28 C Washington... 40 Tillman*
Matchup: Ram Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Goff completed 61.2% of his passing attempts for 2,995 yds. Yardage per attempt is 7.3...TD to INT ratio is 11: 12...QBR is 80.3...Leading receivers are Kupp (67 catches) and Woods 51. Third best receiver is a TE (got that Cardinals?) Everett..4th leading receiver (who leads the team with 15.0 YPC) is Cooks.
Key Matchups - Goff vs. C Jones and Suggs...Kupp vs. P Peterson...Cooks and Woods vs. Murphy and K Peterson. Higbee and Everett vs. Reddick and Walker....Gurley vs. Hicks
Matchup: Ram Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Gurley has racked up 547 rushing yards (4.1 YPC)
Key Matchups - Gurley vs. Hicks...Ram OL vs. Cardinal DL
01 Murray, 07 Hundley
31 D Johnson, 29 Edmonds, 41 Drake...22 Zenner.
WR - 11 Fitzgerald...89 Isabella, 12 Cooper
WR - 13 Kirk....19 KS Johnson. 16 Sherfield...14 Byrd
TE - 85 Clay ....81 Daniels
TE - 87 - MWilliams
LT- ...74 Humphries...66 Miles,
LG - 67 Pugh
OC- 53 Shipley, 52 Cole
RG- 64 Sweezy...73 Garcia, 65 Gailliard.
RT - 71 J Murray..
Littleton leads Ram tacklers with 94 followed by Weddle (81) and Rapp (71). Donald leads in sacks with 8.0 followed by Matthews (7.0) and Fowler 6.5. Ram pass defenders have 5 picks (compared to 7 by opposing pass defenders. Littleton leads with 2 picks. John Johnson (2) is not on the active roster.
DE....90 Brockers...97 Fox
DT....99 Donald...92 Smart
WILL .56 Fowler...50 Ekubam
OLB...52 Matthews...57 Patrick...45 Okoronkwo
ILB...58 Littleton...48 Howard
ILB...51 Reeder...41 Young
LCB...22 Hill...23 Robey-Coleman
RCB..20 Ramsey...25 Long Jr...38 Deayon
FS....32 Weddle...33 Scott...31 D Williams
SS...26 Christian...39 Gervais...24 Rapp
Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs Ram Pass Defense
Cards like to mix things up; drawing from a variety of weapons in their arsenal, depending on how the defense wants to play it - so you can't be sure what the Kyler-Murray-led Card offense will look like from week to week. (One would assume that they'd carefully scrutinize the Raven game tape and do a lot of offensive stuff that worked for a similar Baltimore offense).
Ram strength remains their DL front 3 led by Donald and Brockers. Ramsay and Weeddle form the cornerstones of a very good Ram secondary. Donald leads the team with 8 sacks. Interesting pass rush scenario will involve Donald disrupting the middle and forcing Murray outside (where Fowler, Ekubam and Matthews will be waiting.
K Murray vs. Ramsay...Cardinal OL vs. Donald, Brockers, Fowler
Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Ram Run Defense
Despite (very) brief flashes of brilliance, D Johnson seems to regularly "fall over the edge." He's been pretty much replaced by FA Kenyon Drake. Chase Edmonds has shown flashes but continues to battle nagging injuries.
Drake vs. Matthews... Card OL vs. Ram Front 3.
Zuerlein is 4 for 8 between the 40 and 50 (about the same BA as opposiing kickers)...Hekker's average is 3.4 yds better than opposing punters...Ram kick and punt returners are averaging a yard or two lower than Ram foes...
Ram Special Teams
K ..04 Zuerlein
P ..... 06 Hekker
H 06 Hekker
KR .19 Natson
PR 19 Natson
Cardinals Special Teams
P - ...02 Lee
K- ....05 Gonzalez
H - ...02 Lee
LS - 46 Brewer
KR -12 Cooper... 89 Isabella...
PR - 12 Cooper...13 Kirk.
Matchup Ram Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Gonzalez vs. Zuerlein is pretty much of a wash. Hekker vs. 9a healthy) Lee slightly favors Lee. We like Cardinal coverage teams over Rams. Neither teams' returners have scared anyone.
Coaching / Intangibles
HC/OC Sean McVay...DC Wade Phillips...ST: John Fassel. McVay became "youngest HC in modern-day NFL history. McVay handles OC duties...NFL mavens consider Rams' lack of production a function of their young head coach's lack of experience handling the various ups and downs of NFL coaching.
How to Beat the Rams
Don't let the dreary current season get you down. The Cards introduced an entirely new offensive system and different player-roles to implement that system. It's taken the better part of the season to get the players to buy-in and become familiar with the new system. In doing so, they've shown they can compete in the thick and thin of what may be pro football's toughest division. Right now, they're being pretty much taken for granted by other teams on their schedule Key now is - to show the world that they're better than that.