Breakfast and football are a true treat: here is the LA Rams pregame preview to enjoy over Sunday breakfast
The 1-0 LA Rams cross three time-zones this week to play the 0-1 Philadelphia Eagles. While the Eagles failed to win an NFC East division game, the Rams must wade through five games including all four NFC East teams, before they ever face an NFC West opponent. The Rams won by controlling the line of scrimmage and the clock in game one. Will the Rams try that same strategy in week two? Or will the Rams test the Eagles secondary, pushing for some deep pass plays to improve chances for a quick score?
The Rams need this one as badly as the Eagles do. So in terms of which team wants it more? That comes out to a draw. The Eagles have a strong defensive line, home-field advantage, and two great tight end receivers. The Rams have a strong defensive line, a strong secondary, and a very strong receiving corps. The jury is out on the running game and offensive lines, albeit the Rams had better performances from both in week one.
When the Eagles have the ball
The Philadelphia Eagles will want to get something going in the running game. Not only does quarterback Carson Wentz need help, but the team has second year running back Miles Sanders active this week, saving him during week one to have him more prepared to face the Rams. To counter, the Rams will likely use a similar strategy of moving defensive lineman all over the line and using him to crash Eagles offensive linemen. Micah Kiser and Kenny Young were instrumental in week one holding Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to just 96 yards on the ground.
The Rams will counter the big-play ability of the Eagles deep threat receivers with a three safety defensive. That will likely put Ramsey on one and Rapp on another. Darious Williams will take cover on the Eagles wide receiver. Don’t look for Wentz to hold the ball too long, but the Rams will still get to him for a few quarterback sacks. I would not be surprised for the LA Rams defense to get a couple of turnovers in this game.
When the Rams have the ball
The heroes for the Rams in game one were Robert Woods and Malcolm Brown. While both are capable of repeating success, the Rams know that the Eagles took notice. So it’s back to the playbook this week. I like the skillset of RB Darrell Henderson as an elusive receiver. I think Cam Akers as a pure runner has a strong upside, and if anyone has read the seven Rams receiver article, I like the chances for Cooper Kupp to gash the Eagles defense.
The Rams were content at home to grind out the ball and try to keep the game a low scoring affair. I don’t see the Rams looking to engage in another low scoring contest this week. In fact, I think the Rams playbook will include a number of quick tempo plays to get the ball moving, and then a deep pass or a gadget play to try putting the Eagles defense on their heels. The Rams will want to score early and often in this one. There is no reason to fear an Eagles offense that put up just 17 points against a very much rebuilding Washington team just one week ago.
5 Key factors for an Eagles victory
The five key factors in this one for the Philadelphia Eagles are:
I – Jumping out to an early lead. The Eagles are far better playing with a lead than playing catch up. But no, don’t look at last week’s outcome. Even with a 17 point lead, the Eagles will be nervous.
II – Getting the running game going on the first drive. Running back Miles Sanders gaining first downs in the running game will open the Eagles to run-pass option plays. If the Rams do not respect the run, Wentz is in for a long one.
III – Winning both sides of the line of scrimmage. To run the ball, the Eagles will need to control the offensive line of scrimmage. To hold the Rams offense in check, the Eagles defensive line will need to be very good.
IV – Getting a wide receiver active in the passing game. The Eagles cannot win if they think the passing game only needs to run through Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. they will need a big game from a true wide receiver.
V – The Eagles secondary, somehow, must keep the lid on the Rams receivers. No single receiver for more than 50 yards, and holding the Rams passing game to under 300 yards on the day.
5 key factors for a Rams victory
The five key factors in this one for the LA Rams are:
I – Scoring the first times the Rams get the ball until the Rams lead by more than 7 points. If the Rams show up and fall to a three-and-out series early, they will struggle to gain momentum.
II – Run or pass to move the chains early. The Rams can be just as effective in this game with a short ball-control passing game and may find that a much easier path. The Eagles will be looking to stop running plays early. Knowing this, the Rams could fake the run and get some big yards with just a little creativity.
III – Even if it means 12 personnel package, the Rams must control their offensive line of scrimmage. Goff is a much better passer when he has good protection, and he had pretty good protection on week one. The Rams need to invest in ensuring that happens in week two.
IV – Don’t be afraid to distribute passes to the open receiver. Once Goff locks in on a receiver, he can be a bit dependant upon that player for the rest of the game. The Eagles simply don’t have the defensive horses to take away all of the Rams targets, so Goff will need to find the uncovered player.
V – The Rams must test the Eagles safeties. The Eagles secondary is part experiment and part desperation. When the team allowed longtime safety Malcolm Jenkins to leave via free agency, the defense converted cornerback Jalen Mills to safety. The secondary is unfamiliar with one another, and they had early success against a rather week Washington passing offense. The Rams are far more formidable at passing.
How does this one turn out
The Rams are led by three of the most football savvy, young coaches in the league. Keep in mind that Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson has opted not to fill their offensive coordinator role that vacated in the offseason. I think that along with the Eagles’ continued injuries, is the difference in the game. The Rams will be able to adjust rapidly on both offense and defense. The Eagles, as they are currently constructed, cannot.
So this game can be similar to the first game for the Eagles. There will be a first-half which can go either way. There will be a half time with adjustments. Then there will be a second-half that should be noticeably better for the LA Rams.
Final score: LA Rams 23 Philadelphia Eagles 21
But if the Rams go into halftime with a good lead, this one will go there way.