No NFL team wants to face the LA Rams defense in the playoffs

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

NFL Playoffs bring out the best of players. That is why no team wants to face the LA Rams defense, a unit loaded with talent

The LA Rams are not a perfectly constructed team. In fact, if you want to sit down and poke holes in the roster, you have plenty of room to do so. Yet somehow, it’s the perfect imperfections on this LA Rams defense that makes this team one of the most intriguing and dangerous teams in the NFL Playoffs. That, in itself, makes the team one that other teams hope to avoid as they navigate their way to the Super Bowl.

Let’s face it, any team that has made it this far wants to advance. Advance and survive to play another week, another game. This is no longer a regular-season game where, win or lose, the team corrects its mistakes and returns to play the following week. This is sudden death. Win or go home. That is not a very enjoyable situation when facing a defense led by All-Pros defensive lineman Aaron Donald and defensive back Jalen Ramsey.

Donald dominates

A player like Aaron Donald will attract a lot of attention in a game. The Seattle Seahawks have been known to use three and sometimes even four blockers to contain Donald on some offensive plays. The Rams have used that strategy against the Seahawks, and it has been rather successful.  In two games this season, Donald has only managed two tackles, and one quarterback sack. But the Rams pass rush has gotten Russell Wilson to the ground 11 times this year.

Donald is more than a defensive lineman who tackles and sacks. He is absolute carnage, a wrecking ball of devastation that can blow up plays by taking out multiple blockers. After the Rams defeated the Dallas Cowboys in the season opener, analyst Brian Baldinger featured Donald’s performance on the 2020 NFL Season debut of Baldy’s Breakdowns, entitled ‘Aaron Donald’s 60 minutes of mayhem’. It’s more than the number of tackles. It’s how a player impacts the game. Donald will show up big in this one.

Ramsey’s role

The role of DB Jalen Ramsey, much like that of teammate Aaron Donald, is not to put up individual statistics. Rather, it is to neutralize the opponent’s best receivers from putting on an offensive clinic.  So far, Ramsey has been rather successful at doing exactly that. The Seattle Seahawks offense features two of the most dangerous pair of NFL receivers in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.  But in two games against the Rams, Metcalf has been neutralized, catching eight of 12 passes for 87 yards. His teammate, Tyler Lockett, has caught eight of 14 passes for 110 yards. Both players performed well below their averages.

That is in two games, and two of the most productive receivers have been held to under 100 yards per game, combined. And neither has scored a touchdown on the Rams yet. It’s not just them. Ramsey rules apply to virtually any top-rated receiver he has faced this season. The top receivers in the NFL play below average when they encounter the Rams defensive secondary.

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In the NFL Playoffs, the trick is not just to win, but to survive to play the following week. Right now, the burden for any team facing the LA Rams is how to do exactly that.  It won’t be easy to do.  Strong defenses and a solid running game are very effective in the post-season.