Can LA Rams finally defeat an AFC North opponent?

Matthew Stafford, Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford, Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The LA Rams are 4-1 against the NFC West Division but are 0-2 against the AFC North Division teams that they have faced so far this season. Don't jump to conclusions, as the LA Rams lost those two games by a difference of just 10 points. So how did the Rams lose the game? That's where it starts to get frustrating.

On both occasions, the LA Rams appeared to be the better team on the football field. The Rams offense was clicking, albeit the Rams left yards on the field by not running at the Cincinnati Bengals. But in both games, the Rams lost the battle of turnovers. And that proved to be their downfall.

The LA Rams love the aggressive style of starting veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford. He will throw into tight windows, expecting his receivers, and his teammates to make the catch. In previous seasons. that was the case. But in 2023, the Rams have to adopt a new strategy. WR Cooper Kupp is not the same, hampered by injuries that have made him less effective.

While rookie WR Puka Nacua and veteran WR Tutu Atwell have taken over in the rams offense this season, neither have mastered an ability to catch footballs as consistently and cleanly as Kupp just yet. So the Rams must take some pressure from the passing game, and force opposing defensive backs to second guess themselves.

Freeman to soften, Williams to ice the cake

The LA Rams have had incredible production from first-year featured running back Kyren Williams against the Arizona Cardinals this season. But the Cleveland Browns are not the Cardinals, and will give the Rams fewer and narrower running lanes to pile up the yards. That will limit Williams' ability to run in a game in which the Rams must find a way to grind out the yards on the ground.

To soften the Browns powerful defense up, and take some of the starch out of their pass rush, the Rams should lead off the game by pounding at the Browns best pass rusher, defensive end Myles Garrett, again and again with RB Royce Freeman.

After Freeman has softened up the Browns physical defensive front, the Rams have far more likelihood of running Kyren Williams, or of passing successfully. Rather than playing rope-a-dope with opposing teams, trying to weather their best and leave enough in the tank and hope for a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback, the Rams can go on the attack early by pounding body blows to the defense, and give their fast and skillful weapons an opportunity to do damage as the game progresses.

In a must win game, the Rams cannot allow hubris to be a reason for squandering a winnable football game. The Rams have all of the right tools to win in Week 13. It simply comes down to the question of whether the Rams know when to use the right tool for the right job.