The Cleveland Browns (7-4) are the next opponent on the LA Rams (5-6) schedule. The question is, who will the Rams defense face in a crucial game for both teams? We know the Browns have lost starting quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season. And their primary backup quarterback, rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, left the game early in Week 12 after suffering a vicious hit from a Denver Broncos defender. DTR has entered the NFL Concussion Protocol, and the chances of his availability are in question today.
If Thompson-Robinson cannot go in Week 13, the Browns will likely go with reserve quarterback P.J. Walker. While Walker has led the Browns to a 3-2 record, his ability to complete a forward pass is a bit suspect. In five games this season, Walker has completed just 54 of 111 passes thrown for 674 yards, one touchdown, and five interceptions.
Who will the Rams face in Week 12 at QB?
Since the stakes for the Browns, who are clinging to the sixth seed in the AFC for an NFL Playoffs berth, are so high, there is a growing belief that the Browns may elevate veteran quarterback Joe Flacco to face the Rams this week. When asked if Joe Flacco is an option to start for the Browns in the face of DTR's concussion protocol and P.J. Walker's struggles this season, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski merely replied:
"We ll see."- Kevin Stefanski
The Rams have yet to defeat a team from the AFC North, although the team was quite competitive in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals and the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The LA Rams are on a roll in terms of winning two consecutive games. And the manner in which the Rams are finding success, with a strong running game and solid play action passing, has been hugely beneficial to the Rams ability to score as well as the Rams defense.
Rams face a difficult test in Week 13
The Cleveland Browns offense averages 320.6 yards per game, 20th best in the NFL compared to 340.6 yards per game by the Rams (17th-ranked). Much of that offense is on the ground, as the Browns average 139.5 yards per game on the ground, 4th best in the NFL. That compares to 114.0 rushing yards per game for the Rams (14th-ranked)
The Browns defense is very stingy, allowing an NFL best of just 247.9 yards and 19.0 points per game. Compare that to the LA Rams defense which allows 331.2 yards and 21.3 points per game.
While the Browns quarterback conundrum may seem like a complicated matter for this Browns team, the Browns are built to manage the game from the quarterback position, run the football, and lean heavily into a suffocating defense. The Browns may have lost RB Nick Chubb, but are getting solid production out of RB Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt.
The Rams are starting to come into their own, and the Browns are an ideal test to see if the team has improved over the course of the season. The Denver Broncos defeated the Browns handily by creating three turnovers to the Browns getting one turnover. That should be the focus of the Rams' defense in practices this week - creating turnovers.
If the Rams can pull off another win, the Rams will improve to a record of 6-6, and could be in prime position for a late season rally for a berth for the NFL Playoffs. And based on what we have seen after the BYE, they could very well do it.