What St. Louis Rams Must Do to Get to 4-4 in London
The Patriots (4-3) and the Rams (3-4) are both fighting for wins in order to stay competitive in their own divisions.
This is actually the first year of three in which the Rams will play overseas in order to spread the American version of football in other countries. While they may be winless on the road so far this season, the Rams are actually the "home" team in this one.
A battle is on their hands. This is what St. Louis must do in order to reach 4-4 in London.
Step Up Red-Zone Play
One constant for the Patriots is the fact that they score points, most of the time in large numbers. At 31 points per game this season, it's no secret that a key to beating New England is to outscore them.
No longer can the Rams be fine with driving to the opponent's 10-yard line only to be forced to put up a kick for three points. According to Team Rankings, St. Louis only scores a touchdown in the red zone 41.18 percent of the time.
The Rams have to not only score against New England, but they have to score touchdowns in order to surpass the high-caliber offense of the Patriots. Trading field goals for touchdowns is a surefire way to earn a loss in Week 8.
Let It Fly
Analysts everywhere seem to think the Rams' passing offense isn't where it needs to be. But while they may not have dominant receivers, the young core is slowly coming around.
Without Danny Amendola, the Rams have Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens stepping up lately, as well as Steve Smith and Brian Quick on board eager to gain receptions too.
In London, however, St. Louis must have Sam Bradford drop back and throw in this game. The reason is because of the New England Patriots and their 29th-ranked passing defense. They are allowing almost 300 yards through the air per game and have already given up 16 passing touchdowns to opponents, which is tied for the most in the NFL.
For the Rams to be successful against the Pats, they have to recognize that the secondary is the weak spot for New England. Hoping the Rams capitalize on this is an understatement, because they must throw the ball in this game in order to win.
Keep Your Eyes on Gronk and Hernandez
The Rams have without a doubt one of the most improved defenses in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the Patriots have one of the most prolific scoring offenses in the league. Though their roster is filled with playmakers, there are two that the St. Louis defense must watch the entire game.
These two tight ends take the place of most skill positions in the offense. They run the ball, they go deep, they catch screens, they block. The point to get across here is that no matter what happens, the Patriots love for their guys to get the football in their hands to make plays.
Gronkowski has 35 catches for more than 430 yards and five touchdowns on the season. Finally back from injury, Aaron Hernandez is getting things going again, as he's tallied 17 catches for almost 150 yards and two touchdowns.
While the corners are already facing tough matchups against Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, the linebackers have to keep the two-headed monster that is Gronkowski-Hernandez in check in order to pick up a win.
Pressure Tom Brady
Established already is the fact that the Rams defense has to keep the Patriots' versatile tight ends diminished. The secondary and linebackers will have an entire game plan just for this.
But another key to success is in the hands of the defensive line as well. Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but that is only true when he has the time to step up in the pocket and find one of his weapons downfield.
The monster of a defensive line for the Rams has been getting after quarterbacks all season. They have 21 sacks in seven games, and it would be great to add more in London. But the defensive line can only do so much. The secondary must also play their coverages well so that the line has time to crash on Brady as he searches for the open target.
A dirty, beaten and paranoid Tom Brady would make this game go a lot smoother for the Rams.
The game will be televised to most parts of the nation on Sunday, October 28th at 1 p.m. ET.