Bernie: How will Rams fare in Denver?

BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
Saturday, November 27, 2010 12:15 am

Tracking the Rams:

It will be interesting to see the Rams' approach in Denver on Sunday. The Rams are averaging only 14.3 points a game on the road this season, which ranks 30th among 32 teams. And Denver has one of the highest-scoring offenses at home, averaging 25.4 points a game. And the Rams defense hasn't been as effective on the road, allowing 25 points a game.

On one hand, you can make a strong case that the Rams should slow the game down and go into their usual ball-control game to extend possessions and pound the clock. And in that context, going heavy with running back Steven Jackson makes a lot of sense. Denver isn't good at stopping the run, and Jackson had only 11 carries in last week's loss to Atlanta.

But here's the question: Can the Rams run it consistently against any defense? That's questionable. And if the Rams put together a robust ground game, will they cash in enough to outscore the Broncos? I suppose it's possible for the Rams to win a low-scoring game but again, that's questionable.

Does it make more sense for the Rams to open it up, spread the field and go with a no-huddle attack against a Denver defense that's been burned for 20 touchdown passes this season? And don't forget, the Rams have gotten strong production from Jackson when running the ball out of sets that feature three or four wide receivers. So spreading it out but making frequent use of Jackson seems like a smart way to go.

Either way, the Rams have to find a way to surpass their previous high of 20 points on the road this season. And the coaching staff will have to be sharp for four quarters; the Rams have been outscored 58-17 in the second half of road games this season. That must change.

It's folly to predict anything in the NFC West, but we think eight wins will take the division. First-place Seattle, 5-5, will play four of its last six games at home and is 3-1 there this season. So, the Rams have to get busy. They have to pile up some wins. And they have to break through on the road. Playing consecutive road games against two 3-7 teams (Denver, Arizona) provides an opportunity.

Rams rookie QB Sam Bradford is among the nominees for the Fan's Choice "Emerging Player" award, which will be handed out at the first annual PULSE Awards, hosted by James Brown of CBS Sports, on Feb. 3 in Dallas. Fans can vote online at NFL Players Pulse Awards up to five times a day now through Dec. 24. Underrated Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola is among the league's most productive third-down receivers. Amendola has caught 22 passes on third down, second in the NFL to Atlanta's Roddy White, who has 24. And Amendola is fifth in the league in third-down receiving yards. In an interview with Doug Farrar of "The Shutdown Corner" blog, retired Rams RB Marshall Faulk had this to say about Bradford and the Rams: "My take on Sam is that it's not so much on the field as off the field. The guys in the locker room believe in him, and they're willing to follow him, and allow him to be their leader. And the kid is doing something right, because when you're young, you have to lead by example you don't have a lot of experience. He's put forth the effort, and you can tell that the team is rallying around him. I'm excited for them as a team. They've done a great job revamping the roster and they're getting a lot more out of their defense. A lot of those picks that were questionable especially Chris Long are turning the corner and playing well."