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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    ESPN Insider: Rams @ Patriots

    Insider Preview: Rams at Patriots
    ESPN Scouts Inc.

    St. Louis at New England
    Scouts Inc. Position Advantages:

    QB- StL
    RB- StL
    WR- NE
    OL- NE
    DL- NE
    LB- NE
    DB- NE
    ST- NE
    Coach- NE

    With interim coach Jim Haslett shaking things up in St. Louis, the Rams have been a different team. Meantime, Bill Belichick and his staff did a nice job of getting the Patriots back on track with a huge win over Denver last week. The Rams are flying around and playing with confidence, and the Pats seem revived by their efforts against the Broncos. With a difficult road win, St. Louis improbably has a chance to jump back into the NFC West race. New England needs this game to stay within striking distance of Buffalo in the AFC East.

    When St. Louis has the ball

    The Rams' offense ranks next to last in total yards, but it has shown drastic improvement since Haslett took over. Coordinator Al Saunders wants a hard-nosed ground game to set up a high-percentage passing attack. RB Steven Jackson has one of the best combinations of size, strength and athleticism among NFL running backs, and he is equally capable as a downhill power runner or using his speed and burst to press the edge.

    The Patriots' 3-4 defense has been inconsistent against the run, and a season-ending injury to SS Rodney Harrison (quadriceps) will make the challenge of containing Jackson even more difficult. QB Marc Bulger is coming off of arguably his best -- and certainly most efficient -- outing, and he is a capable passer to all levels of the field. Jackson is a big part of the Rams' passing game (screens, swing patterns and option routes), and the dwindling Patriots pass rush may give St. Louis a chance to create more plays for its perimeter targets (WRs Torry Holt and Donnie Avery) downfield.

    When New England has the ball

    The Patriots' offense came alive last week (41 points, 404 yards), as previously struggling QB Matt Cassel turned in a career-best performance. Despite being shorthanded in the backfield, New England rolled up 257 rushing yards at an impressive 6.8 yards-per-carry clip. Coordinator Josh McDaniels likely will try to establish the ground game early, but he may need to open up the playbook if the Rams' defense overplays the run. Cassel has excellent targets in WRs Randy Moss and Wes Welker, TE Ben Watson and RB Kevin Faulk.

    St. Louis will want to force the game into Cassel's hands, but the Rams' 4-3 defense has had all kinds of trouble stopping the run this season. Haslett may decide to frequently align eight men in the box and crowd the Pats' perimeter receivers to make it tough for Cassel to complete high-percentage passes. Expect a variety of zone blitzes, interior stunts and combination coverages from the Rams in an effort to derail New England's running attack.

    Matchup to watch: Rams CB Ron Bartell vs. Patriots WR Randy Moss

    Moss hasn't put up anything approaching the numbers he racked up a year ago, but he remains one of the NFL's most dangerous receivers. He has an excellent combination of size and athleticism, with the ability to stretch the field and make acrobatic catches on jump balls. He isn't powerful after the catch and won't break a lot of tackles, but he has deceptive quickness and speed for his size and can eat up chunks of yards in the open field. Bartell is a big corner with enough strength and speed to match up relatively well with Moss on the perimeter. Most defensive coordinators roll coverage or double-team Moss, but Bartell likely be left on an island fairly often this week. He is one of the most active defenders in the Rams' secondary, with good closing quickness and instincts to make plays on the ball. Expect Bartell to press Moss and use his strength and long arms to re-route the receiver off the line. It's a huge challenge, but if Bartell can mostly neutralize Moss on his own, Haslett will be able to overplay the run (where St. Louis needs the most help) and take calculated chances in other areas.

    Rams Keys to Success:
    1. Get Jackson his touches: St. Louis has one of the best running backs in the league, and they need to get him the ball in as many areas and in as many ways as they can, including out of the backfield as a receiver. Jackson is so gifted, well-rounded and rugged that the Rams must make a priority of featuring him whenever possible. Even when a play is well-defended, Jackson has the ability to make a defender miss or break a tackle to pick up the extra yards that keep drives alive.

    2.Stop New England's run game: If their running backs aren't able to keep the chains moving, the Patriots' offense becomes an average unit. Cassel hasn't been productive throwing downfield, and he'll face additional pressure if the Pats aren't able to put him in reasonable down-and-distance situations. Can New England repeat last week's rushing success? By stacking the line of scrimmage and making a concerted effort to force Cassel to do the heavy lifting, the Rams can make it that much harder for the Pats to pull off.

    3. Make plays in the third phase: To tame a hostile crowd and maintain field position, the Rams need to win in the kicking game. With Cassel behind center, the Patriots seldom methodically drive the ball the length of the field, so giving them difficult starting position will be crucial. K Josh Brown and P Donnie Jones have strong legs and can change field position. Jones, in particular, excels at pinning opponents inside their own 20-yard line. The Patriots have capable return specialists (Faulk and Ellis Hobbs), so the Rams' coverage units must stay in their lanes and wrap up on contact.

    Patriots Keys to Success:
    1. Establish the run: Last week's offensive explosion started with a potent ground attack. The Patriots need to set the tone in the trenches early in this game to take pressure off Cassel. It won't be easy if RB Sammy Morris joins RB Laurence Maroney (who was placed on injured reserve Monday) on the sideline, but establishing the run game will free up a lot of things in the passing game and limit the defensive schemes Haslett and his staff may want to use. Controlling possessions and bleeding the clock also will keep the ball away from Jackson and a Rams offense that appears to be increasingly dangerous.

    2. Expand the passing game: Since taking over the offense from an injured Brady, Cassel has been somewhat protected in terms of how frequently he is asked to stretch the field or make tough reads. Haslett likely will have a good scheme ready to deny the safe, short routes that have made up the bulk of New England's passing offense under Cassel. It would be helpful this week (and in future matchups) for McDaniels and the Patriots to put together a plan that at least forces opponents to defend the entire field.

    3. Put the wraps on Jackson: The Patriots' defense has been no better than fair at defending the run, and has shown noticeable cracks. Jackson is the type of runner who can reel off a huge game if given any breaks, and Pats defensive coordinator Dean Pees needs to make a priority of stopping him early. Much of the Rams' passing game is predicated on an effective ground attack, so targeting Jackson could cut off St. Louis' scoring at the source. And because the offensive line has been inconsistent in protection and passing attack is less explosive in general, New England isn't taking as great a risk by focusing on the run.

    Scouts Edge

    All signs point toward a Patriots win, but this matchup is closer than it appears on the surface. The Rams are dangerous right now, and the dynamic Jackson gives St. Louis a chance to control possessions and shorten the game. And with Harrison out, New England could have even more trouble against the run. Cassel's Week 7 performance was a good sign, but can he put together back-to-back strong outings? Both clubs are well-coached, but Belichick and his staff have the advantage of stability and over the years have proven to be resilient when shorthanded. The Patriots aren't the same dominant club we saw in 2008, but they remain tough at home and should be able to lock up a victory late in the fourth quarter.

    Prediction
    St. Louis 23
    New England 27


  2. #2
    Varg6's Avatar
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Rams @ Patriots

    My question is this: Did the Patriots beat a Denver team that was really that great to begin with when it came to defense? From what I recall, they were next to if not dead last in many areas when it came to the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, Cutler being hurt was detrimental and they shot themselves in the foot. I am not taking away anything from the Pat's victory because it was impressive. All I'm saying is that I am not so sure they played that great of a team (as far as defense goes...)


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

  3. #3
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Rams @ Patriots

    haslett was on the local sports talk radio show in boston. weei. he's friends with fred smerlas who was on the show today and talked about building confidence w/ the rams and picking on fred. no real talk about the game sunday just about what he hopes to accomplish in the last 3 months.

  4. #4
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Rams @ Patriots

    I think that the Rams special teams are a lot better than the Patsies, not sure what he was thinking when he said they had the advantage. Heck, we should have the pro bowl punter and kicker this year and Dante has looked pretty good on a few returns the past couple of weeks.

  5. #5
    Goldenfleece's Avatar
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Rams @ Patriots

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    QB- StL
    RB- StL
    WR- NE
    OL- NE
    DL- NE
    LB- NE
    DB- NE
    ST- NE
    Coach- NE
    I'd say the DBs are a wash. With Rodney Harrison out and Asante Samuel gone, the Patriots have got a lot of nothing back there. If Hobbs, Wheatley, Merriweather, and James Sanders are a better starting lineup than ours, they must not rate ours at all.


    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    Scouts Edge

    All signs point toward a Patriots win, but this matchup is closer than it appears on the surface. The Rams are dangerous right now, and the dynamic Jackson gives St. Louis a chance to control possessions and shorten the game. And with Harrison out, New England could have even more trouble against the run. Cassel's Week 7 performance was a good sign, but can he put together back-to-back strong outings? Both clubs are well-coached, but Belichick and his staff have the advantage of stability and over the years have proven to be resilient when shorthanded. The Patriots aren't the same dominant club we saw in 2008, but they remain tough at home and should be able to lock up a victory late in the fourth quarter.

    Prediction
    St. Louis 23
    New England 27
    I agree about the Rams being a dangerous team and all, but "all signs point toward a Patriots win"? I'd be arguing the opposite point. Not only is Tom Brady out of commission, but so is Maroney and quite possibly Sammy Morris and Lamont Jordan as well. If one of the keys to their success is establishing the run, that's putting a lot of pressure on Kevin Faulk. Coming off victories against two likely playoff contenders, I'd say this looks like a favorable matchup for us, but it'll be a tougher game than it looks like on paper because the Patriots are always a dangerous team.

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    Re: ESPN Insider: Rams @ Patriots

    Our DB and Special teams are better. No doubt about it.

    It's going to be a fun a game. GO RAMS

  7. #7
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Rams @ Patriots

    Denver has an offense--but no defense. I saw that game and I saw Denvers Defense getting blown off the line, and theri secondary out of possition.

    If the Pats are going to get a running game going its not likely going between the tackles. There execution of screens is excellent and best in the league. Its those type of plays that worry me. Still, its very unlikely the Pats offense will push the Rams around like Denver.

    As for the Rams offense verses their Defense, its going to come down to how healthy Jackson is and what Pats defense will show up. It must be maddning for Belichick not to have a consistant defense. I say the Rams need to attack the middle of their defense. I've notice the Pats wear down and after a couple long drives they dont recover quickly

  8. #8
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Rams @ Patriots

    Another key could be the Pats offensive and defensive lines. They have given up 26 sacks and our ends have been getting a lot more pressure this year. So far we have 11 sacks from our ends which is more than we had all of last season I believe. The Patriots defensive line has only gotten 10 sacks so far this year and they've had trouble getting to the quarterback. If we can control the line of scrimmage we should win this game.

  9. #9
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Rams @ Patriots

    Quote Originally Posted by mcpeepants232003 View Post
    Another key could be the Pats offensive and defensive lines. They have given up 26 sacks and our ends have been getting a lot more pressure this year. So far we have 11 sacks from our ends which is more than we had all of last season I believe. The Patriots defensive line has only gotten 10 sacks so far this year and they've had trouble getting to the quarterback. If we can control the line of scrimmage we should win this game.
    Good post my friend.

    We need to protect Bulger. They have a banged up secondary and we need to take advantage of it. We did a good job against Dallas. Hit Avery for a couple deep ones and ruin their confidence. We can do it guys!

    We just have to hope that Jackson is healthy...

  10. #10
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Rams @ Patriots

    Quote Originally Posted by mcpeepants232003 View Post
    Another key could be the Pats offensive and defensive lines. They have given up 26 sacks and our ends have been getting a lot more pressure this year. So far we have 11 sacks from our ends which is more than we had all of last season I believe. The Patriots defensive line has only gotten 10 sacks so far this year and they've had trouble getting to the quarterback. If we can control the line of scrimmage we should win this game.
    Good post. What I want to know is if they've gotten 10 sacks from the D-line total, and the Rams have 11 just from the DE's what makes their line better? I think the play of Little, Hall and Long would be somewhat tough to beat these last couple games.

  11. #11
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Rams @ Patriots

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenfleece View Post
    I'd say the DBs are a wash. With Rodney Harrison out and Asante Samuel gone, the Patriots have got a lot of nothing back there. If Hobbs, Wheatley, Merriweather, and James Sanders are a better starting lineup than ours, they must not rate ours at all.



    I agree about the Rams being a dangerous team and all, but "all signs point toward a Patriots win"? I'd be arguing the opposite point. Not only is Tom Brady out of commission, but so is Maroney and quite possibly Sammy Morris and Lamont Jordan as well. If one of the keys to their success is establishing the run, that's putting a lot of pressure on Kevin Faulk. Coming off victories against two likely playoff contenders, I'd say this looks like a favorable matchup for us, but it'll be a tougher game than it looks like on paper because the Patriots are always a dangerous team.
    Great responses.

    I actually think our DB's are better. I would also give our O-line the edge in this comparison. I really think the Cowboys have more weapons than Pats especially on the offensive side of the ball.

  12. #12
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Rams @ Patriots

    Once again this is a knee jerk reaction for the Patriot loving media. The media wants them to be good so badly it's pathetic. They beat a Denver team with a crappy defense and Cutler got banged up. Not to mention Moss really did nothing untill Champ Bailey went down. We could lose sure, but I really like our chances. The Patriots are not a very good team. Now they are even more so with all the injuries they are sustaining. Just like the Cowboys, it's very hard to maintain when so many players go down. I'm not predicting a win because road games are tough but the media is absolutley in love with the Patriots and saying their db's,st's,lb's are better than ours is rediculous. You're telling me Mayo,Bruschi,Thomas, and Vrabel are better than Draft,Pisa, and Spoon come on man. Not to mention I don't see how their d-line is so much better than ours. Little is definately the best d-line man on the field for either team. The media's love affair for the Patriots is still very strong and I love that the Rams are still being over looked.
    Just Fix It

  13. #13
    RamsInfiniti's Avatar
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Rams @ Patriots

    Quote Originally Posted by rammiser View Post
    Once again this is a knee jerk reaction for the Patriot loving media. The media wants them to be good so badly it's pathetic. They beat a Denver team with a crappy defense and Cutler got banged up. Not to mention Moss really did nothing untill Champ Bailey went down. We could lose sure, but I really like our chances. The Patriots are not a very good team. Now they are even more so with all the injuries they are sustaining. Just like the Cowboys, it's very hard to maintain when so many players go down. I'm not predicting a win because road games are tough but the media is absolutley in love with the Patriots and saying their db's,st's,lb's are better than ours is rediculous. You're telling me Mayo,Bruschi,Thomas, and Vrabel are better than Draft,Pisa, and Spoon come on man. Not to mention I don't see how their d-line is so much better than ours. Little is definately the best d-line man on the field for either team. The media's love affair for the Patriots is still very strong and I love that the Rams are still being over looked.
    Ahhh, much agreed, I see it like this:

    QB- StL
    RB- StL
    WR- NE
    OL- Push
    DL- StL
    LB- Push
    DB- StL
    ST- StL
    Coach- NE

    I really don't see how the media can see it any other way, other than what you mentioned, a love affair ....

    Pisa is playing his best football in years, and Witherspoon is arguably the best LB that will be on the field this weekend. Our DL is playing at a very high level. We have the best kicker and punter in the league. They are starting Mark LeVoir, yes, Mark LeVoir, at right tackle. Good luck there ...

    Really unbelievable if you ask me. All signs point towards a NE win? How so? Yes, New England has home field advantage, but if Jackson is playing, I really see this as our game to lose ...
    Last edited by RamsInfiniti; -10-24-2008 at 10:46 AM.

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