5 bold predictions for the LA Rams vs. the Patriots

Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams game day
Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-Arizona RepublicNfl Cards Game L A Rams At Arizona Cardinals /

IV -Prediction 4

DL Aaron Donald will record two sacks against Patriots quarterback Cam Newton.  In 12 games, Newton has been sacked 19 times. Right now, Donald has 11.0 sacks, just one behind Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt’s 12.0. That means the pressure is on Donald to raise the bar. Raising the bar is Donald’s wheelhouse.

NFL teams have several strategies to negate the brutal power of Aaron Donald at the line of scrimmage. Most of those strategies involve two-four blockers and chokeholds from World Wrestling Entertainment. The blatant disregard for offensive holding against him is so bad, that virtually any photograph of Aaron Donald engaged at the line of scrimmage results in more evidence that an offensive lineman is holding him.

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Donald and the defense are adapting

NFL strategies adapt to unwelcome conditions to create more favorable conditions. Since the Rams know that offensive lines will target Donald with as many as three blockers, the Rams can do one of two strategies. Either the Rams can use Donald as a shield and run pressure at the quarterback in his shadow.  Or the Rams can use stunts to create tough situations for the offense to get more than one body on Donald.

In either case, the defense will be required to run a defense similar to that against the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams will need to set hard edges to contain Newton and outside runs, apply pressure up the middle, and stop running plays. The Rams can do that.