Rams-Chargers: How St. Louis Will Win in Week 6
My post-game hangover lasted (quite understandably) longer than usual this week, but I'm back in the saddle and ready to provide my weekly dose of optimism to the Rams' faithful.
Well... sort of.
I'm not feeling all that optimistic about the Rams' matchup with the San Diego Chargers. This is a team that, despite its 2-3 record, is rather formidable.
Meanwhile, the Rams must find a way to maintain some balance in the offense without leading receiver Mark Clayton, who was lost last week to a knee injury.
Still, the game is at home, and the Rams will be fired up, so...
Here's how I think the Rams can get the "W" this week.
The Story: the Devil's in the Details
On the surface, the Chargers appear to be an elite team.
They have the number 1 offense, and number 2 defense in the NFL, and a top tier QB in Phllip Rivers.
So how are they 2-3?
Well, as they say, the Devil's in the details.
In the three losses, the Chargers have allowed a total of five special teams TDs, and were negative seven in the turnover ratio.
Turnovers and big special teams plays are "the great equalizers."
The question is, can the Rams continue these trends.
The Rams special teams have not had many big plays thus far, apart from a blocked punt against the Redskins. However, Danny Amendola and Mardy Gilyard are dangerous return men who are capable of big plays.
On defense, the Rams lead the league with 10 forced fumbles, so they do have the tools to take advantage of the Chargers' propensity to put the ball on the carpet.
The key for the Rams will be to play aggressively on defense. The Rams have had their best success when they've blitzed often and from multiple angles. That needs to be Sunday's plan.
The Subplot: a Matter of Control
The Rams need to keep the ball away from the Charger's offense.
This will require a healthy dose of Steven Jackson, and some high percentage passes.
Danny Amendola, the Rams' (poor-man's) version of Wes Welker, will be a big part of that.
The Rams need to get him the ball in space and let him move the chains.
If the Rams are going to have a shot on Sunday, its going to be in a low scoring affair. In a shootout, the Chargers have too big an advantage.
The Key Matchup: Antonio Gates Vs. O.J. Atogwe
Antonio Gates has been tearing it up all year, carving opposing defenses down the middle of the field.
The Rams can't let him get deep down the seam, and it will be O.J. Atogwe's task to stop him.
Can Atogwe do this? He certainly is capable, but I think its more of an issue of containing Gates than stopping him.
If the Rams can take Gates out of the equation, and pressure Rivers, they should be able to slow down the Chargers' passing game just enough to keep things close.
The Forecast: Rams 21 Chargers 19
The Rams will find a way on Sunday.
The Chargers will gain more yards (as usual), but the Rams will win the turnover battle.
Steven Jackson will exceed 100 yards rushing again.
Sam Bradford will have an efficient day passing.
Special teams will not be a major factor.
The Rams will pressure Rivers consistently, and sack him at least 3 times.
The St. Louis faithful will be rewarded at home once more.
That's how I see it.