Coming off the bye week, the St Louis Rams will look to return to winning ways on the road against a Philadelphia Eagles team that suffered its first loss last week against San Francisco. The Rams would have hoped to be better than 1-2 after the first three fixtures, particularly due to all three games being against Conference rivals. The Eagles “explosive offence” is possibly one of this season’s most over-used phrases in the media, but with LeSean McCoy being restricted to just 17 yards rushing, no receivers breaking to 60-yard mark and Nick Foles passing for only 195 yards with two picks and no touchdowns, last week showed that Philadephia can be held. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the most important one-on-one matchups going into Sunday’s game.
Brian Quick vs Bradley Fletcher
Going into week 5, the Philadelphia Eagles ranked 25th in the league in pass defence according to ESPN, with opposing teams accumulating 1030 yards through the air thus far. This belies the contribution of cornerback Bradley Fletcher, who is currently tied second in the league with seven passes defended. Hoping to take him down a few notches will be Rams third year receiver Brian Quick, who is on course to break the 1000-yard mark this season. Many Rams fans have been impressed what Quick has shown so far this year, and if the Rams are to return from Lincoln Financial Field with their second win of the year, Quick will need to put in another strong performance. Quick has benefited so far with a lot of attention being paid to Kenny Britt, but has nonetheless proved effective himself in using his height and strength to separate from defenders and bring in some crucial catches when targeted. With less than a quarter of the regular season gone Quick needs only 68 yards to eclipse his previous season total of 302 yards set last year. If Quick can overcome attention from Fletcher, he may have another successful afternoon.
LeSean McCoy vs Aaron Donald
Despite high hopes before the season, the Rams have struggled stopping the run in the opening weeks of the season, ranking 20th in the NFL. Despite this, Aaron Donald has looked well worth the first round pick used to obtain his services, with seven tackles from the defensive line, including a team-leading four tackles-for-loss. In LeSean McCoy, the Eagles have a running back who has finished in the league’s top five in two of the last three seasons. McCoy’s bad day at the office last weekend combined with Nick Foles’ unreliable passing and the Rams’ underperforming defensive line is a good indicator that Philadelphia will put the ball in McCoy’s hands frequently on Sunday. If Donald can step up and keep him quiet, it has the potential to be a huge factor in the Rams picking up the win.
Zac Stacy vs Bennie Logan
If the Rams have been disappointing against the run, the Eagles have been even more so, allowing 133.8 yards per game so far. The 49ers’ Frank Gore looked comfortable picking up 119 yards against Philadelphia last weekend, and Zac Stacy will be rubbing his hands together at the chance of also breaking the 100-yard mark. Among those in his way will be impressive second-year nose tackle, Bennie Logan. The 6’ 2” 315lb Logan is already only four short of his tackle tally for 2013 and will have his sights firmly set on closing those holes up the middle of the field where Stacy excels. As much as the Rams passing game has shown improvements, a balanced offence is still essential and the team will undoubtedly still rely on Stacy to keep the chains moving. If Stacy can break past Logan, it will take the pressure of Austin Davis as he settles into his newly-confirmed role as starting quarterback.