Do the LA Rams (6-6) have what it takes to compete in the NFL Playoffs this year? Like it or not, that is a question that will be answered this Sunday, as the LA Rams will travel to take on arguably the AFC's best in the Baltimore Ravens (9-3). It's not like this is the first tough game that the Rams will face this season, nor will it be the last. But this could be a truly defining contest for the Rams.
Who are the LA Rams in 2023? If the Rams do not commit to running the football in Week 14, this could get ugly very quickly. The weather forecast is already calling for a torrential downpour, and winds gusting to tropical storm levels. If the Rams had any notion to outsmart the Ravens' superb pass rush by passing the football non-stop, let's squelch that right now.
Whatever the Ravens defense does not stop in this game from the Rams passing game, Mother Nature will.
Rams must commit to a rushing offense
While I am not about to suggest that the LA Rams are facing an identity crises, I am of the opinion that the Rams coaching staff has fought the need to feature their ground attack at some of the worst times this season. The Rams lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, and failing to commit to run against one of the NFL's worst run defenses was a contributing factor in that loss. Likewise, the Rams failed to run at the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5, despite the fact that the Rams were getting solid yards when running the football.
In both games, the Rams faced a formidable foe but failed to trust their ground assault. The good news is that since RB Kyren Williams has returned to the active Rams roster, the Rams have been willing to run the football. Let's hope the willingness to run extends into Week 14.
The Rams will not have the luxury of fielding a pass-centric offense if the weather forecast hold. Steady winds of over 20+ MPH, and gusting to 45+ MPH at game time essentially negates the forward pass in all cases except for emergency use only.
The problem with no feasible passing attack tends to favor the best-rushing offense in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens.
Or, does it?
Whether the weather favors the Rams or the Ravens
Much of the impact of Ravens dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson is his ability to scramble after dropping back to pass. Jackson will face the same headwinds as Rams starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, and he will be tempted to run rather than throw in sloppy football. As long as the Rams contain Jackson, the weather could prove to be an advantage for the Rams.
Meanwhile, the Rams rushing attack has been improving in potency all season long, and may be peaking this week. The Rams are getting substantial yardage when running because their blocking schemes have been hitting the mark at the line of scrimmage, and downfield in the secondary.
The LA Rams have a pretty solid rushing attack. With RB Kyren Williams providing the elusive speed running, and RB Royce Freeman punishing defenders with his powerful strides, the Rams can match the Ravens backfield in effectiveness. The wildcard in this game is the running of Ravens QB Lamar Jackson vs. the strategic passing of Rams QB Matthew Stafford.
The Rams can win this game, with a bit of luck and a commitment to stick to their strengths. The Rams can no longer sit back and wait for Matthew Stafford magic to kick in to win a football game for them. The Rams have more weapons this year, and the team must use them all to win this game.
The outcome of Week 14 will not only tell Rams fans how good this team is in terms of talent, but will give a clear indication of how good the coaches will allow this team to become.