Nov 16, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) looks at the scoreboard during the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Another week, another chance to “upset” a playoff-contending team. In the Rams final week in the Gauntlet, theY take on the San Diego Chargers, who just recently snapped a three-game losing skid after starting the year with a 5-1 record. The Chargers are coming off a less-than-impressive 13-6 win over the Oakland Raiders, and are still struggling to find balance in their injury-plagued offensive unit. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Rams are coming off their most decisive win of the season, holding the Peyton Manning-led Broncos to their lowest scoring total since the future Hall-of-Famer took over the show in Denver. Not only that, but the offense managed to hang 22 points on the board, including 100+ yards on the ground, despite it being Shaun Hill’s first game under center since the season opening. The Rams are 3-2 in their last five weeks, with wins over three of the four conference finalists from the 2013 playoffs. Here are five bold predictions that will help move that number to 4-2 this evening.
1. The Rams will outgain the Chargers on offense
Currently, the Chargers defense is ranked 6th against the pass and 12th against the run, in terms of yards allowed. Those number are extremely misleading, if nothing else, because of the offenses they have faced this season. Seattle, Buffalo, Jacksonville, New York, Oakland (twice). Meanwhile, the Rams have truly cranked up the heat defensively, playing tough against some of the most potent offenses in the league, and performing admirably despite their own offensive inefficiencies. This week, they’ll unleash their wrath on Phillip Rivers, who is playing with essentially not rushing game. Sound familiar. However, unlike Manning, Rivers doesn’t have four All-Pro weapons on the outside. Meanwhile, Shaun Hill should be effective against a Chargers squad that recently allowed 37 points to the Miami Dolphins.
2. Tre Mason will get his second-consecutive 100+ yard rushing game
As Mason said this week in an interview with Casey Phillips, he is a shark “smelling blood” after his first 100-yard performance. Jeff Fisher and Brian Schottenheimer are likely smelling the same thing, and will undoubtedly try to repeat last week’s performance against this similarly built San Diego Chargers squad. Expect 25-35 rushing attempts for Mason, which should lead his best rushing game of the season.
3. Rams will get 3+ sack on Phillip Rivers
The San Diego Chargers offensive line is unquestionably in the bottom half of the league, and currently ranked dead-last in Pass Blocking Efficiency, according to Pro Football Focus. They have allowed 15 sacks and 21 hits on the quarterback, including seven in their last three games. However, they’ve yet to face a Rams-caliber front four, which is currently hitting on all cylinders. Expect Robert Quinn to tee-off against King Dunlap and Aaron Donald to have his way against the Chargers struggling interior linemen.
4. Alec Ogletree will continue his interception streak
Along with T.J. McDonald, Alec Ogletree has been the best player on the Rams defense in the last two games. In the last two weekends, the second-year stud leads all outside linebackers in interceptions and batted passes, and ranks second overall in tackles. He is also the only outside linebacker with a positive grade in all three aspects fo the game (i.e. versus run, in coverage, and pass rushing). Considering Phillip River’s propensity to force throws, particularly to his tight end, Ogletree should have a solid shot at one or two passes today. Hopefully, he can pull one in…
5. Phillip Rivers will end up doing this again…