As long as the St. Louis Rams continue to win this season, each coming game will be “the most important” of the year. That includes this week, where a win over the Minnesota Vikings would vault the Rams above the “Purple” and into the 9th spot in the NFC, at a minimum. Cleary, Rams Nation will be supporting the Blue and Gold today, but who else should we be cheering for? Well, here is the St. Louis Rams fan’s guide to cheer in Week 15:
1. Buffalo Bills
I know it is hard to go from hatred to love in only a week’s worth of time, but St. Louis desperately needs the Buffalo Bills to overpower the division-rival Seattle Seahawks today. Seattle is still two games ahead of the Rams in the NFC standings, meaning that St. Louis will need the ‘Hawks to lose, at least, two more games to jump them into the playoffs. The good news for the Bills is that Seattle will be playing without two of their starting corners, with Browner (due to suspension) and Thurman (injury) out Sunday. Also, the ‘Hawks have not been able to handle elite rushers well in the last half of the season, allowing 187 yard to Adrian Peterson, 105 to Matt Forte/Michael Bush, and 87 to Reggie Bush, all in the last five games. Moreover, the ‘Hawks are 2-5 on the road this season, with those two win coming over the, then 1-3, Carolina Panthers early in the season and the Chicago Bears, post-Culter concussion. I expect a big day from both C.J. Spiller, with Fred Jackson on IR, and Stevie Johnson.
2. Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are one of the more underrated teams in the NFL this season. They are the first team in the modern-era of football to be starting a rookie quarterback, running back, and wide receiver on the team, and are doing so while undergoing a drastic change in the front office. They are 4-2 over the last six game, including wins over the Steelers and Chargers. The team plays significantly better at home than on the road, with four of their five wins coming while playing in Cleveland.
This week, they are playing the Washington Redskins at home. The Redskins are one of the three NFC teams that are one game ahead of the St. Louis Rams in the standings, along with the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings. The most important note for this game is that Robert Griffin III has been deactivated due to last week’s knee injury, leaving Kirk Cousin to man the team in his first start in NFL. That means that the ‘Skins will likely lean on Alfred Morris offensively, making it a head-to-head matchup between he and fellow rookie running back, Trent Richardson. Cleveland’s rush defense is middle-of-the-road, but they have forced 9 fumbles and only allowed 10 rushing touchdowns this season. However, their real strength is in pass defense, currently ranked 6th in the league in interceptions, and allowing only 19 passing touchdowns this season, most of which came in the opening half of the season when several of the Browns top secondary players were out. Redskins on the road, without Griffin may be a deadly combo for Washington… hopefully.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers
The Steelers and Packers play the Cowboys and Bears, respectively, this Sunday. To start, the Bears are two games ahead of the Rams in the NFC standings, having lost four of their last five games. The team has not been the same offensively since Cutler got knocked out with a concussion, and the defense has been completely devastated with injury, including their all-stars, Urlacher, Jennings, Briggs, and Tillman. Green Bay destroyed the Bears early in the season, resulting in Culter infamously shoving his offensive tackle on the sideline. The Packers are on a hot streak, and that will likely not end today.
The Steerlers are as much a hot mess as any team in the NFL. The have lost three of their last four game, and barely beat the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime in Week 10. They have zero running backs on their roster that can be trusted holding onto the football, and Ben Roethlisberger is as banged up as any player in the league that isn’t already on IR. Still, the Dallas Cowboys are ahead of the Rams in the standings, having miraculously won four of their last five games. However, they played the lowly Philadelphia Eagle twice in the span, beat the Browns in overtime after going down early on in the game, and squeaked by the Bengals in the waning second of the game for a 1-point win last week. The Cowboys are 3- 5 against teams with a winning record, and are playing against one of the best defensive minds in the history of the NFL. Rams’ fans should be cheering for a ton of “Romo-ing” in this game…
4. New England Patriots and New York Giants
Save your cheering for the previously mentioned teams on this list, but if you have a little left over, throw it to the Giants and the Patriots. The Patriots take on the San Francisco 49ers, and no one likes to see a division rival win on Sunday. The Giants are more interesting, taking on the Atlanta Falcons today. A loss today could mean that the Washington Redskins are back in the hunt for the NFC East crown, which no one wants to think about. The last thing the Rams need is to bypass the Redskins in the rankings and then have them sneak in the playoffs because the New York Giants couldn’t win a game in December. That particular scenario is extremely unlikely, but you do not want to leave anything up to chance this time of the year. Why should St. Louis Rams fans want the New York Giants to win the NFC East? Simply, the Washington Redskins draft spot come April.