The LA Rams (3-3) host the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) in Week 7, a surprisingly important game for the Rams because a victory would bolster the Rams to a winning record for the first time since a Week 1 upset victory over the Seattle Seahawks. But perhaps the answer for why this game is taking on so much importance is much simpler.
The LA Rams have not won consecutive games yet this season. And yes, the Rams have lost consecutive games. So fans are eager to see the season's momentum go the other way. Can the Rams do so? Perhaps, but it won't be easy.
Whether or not they are a playoff team, the Pittsburgh Steelers have 3-2 record despite imperfect and inconsistent performances this season. What do I mean? Well, the Steelers have the 30th ranked offense (both yards gained and points scored) in the NFL. So this must be a team with a strong defense, right?
What statistic determines the Steelers success this season?
The Steelers have a 30th ranked defense (yards allowed) but improve to a 20th ranked defense in terms of points allowed. Still, neither of those rankings seem to explain how they are 3-2. That can be found by the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers boast a +5 on turnovers, They have accomplished that feat by creating 11 turnovers this season, while only allowing six turnovers when they have the football on offense.
And it just so happens that their two losses on the year have been to the San Francisco 49ers (+8 turnovers) and the Houston Texans (+6 turnovers. Their three wins have come against the Cleveland Browns (-8 turnovers), the Baltimore Ravens (-1 turnovers), and the Las Vegas Raiders (-7 turnovers).
Unfortunately, the LA Rams have a net turnover score of -1. But there are reasons for hope.
If Rams run, Rams win
We can outthink ourselves sometimes, and no head coach is more vulnerable to that overthink vulnerability than LA Rams HC Sean McVay. He even acknowledged that fact when he lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. So this is not something I am just spitballing out there.
The Rams proved to be both physical and transformative as the team flipped the switch in Week 6 from a pass-centric offense to a run-heavy Rams offense that not only scored 20 points in the second half against an aggressive Arizona Cardinals team but allowed the Rams defense to shut down the Cardinals offense entirely in the second half.
But here is where it gets interesting. The Rams won the turnover battle in Week 6
So that prompted me to revisit all LA Rams games this season in terms of net turnovers and game outcomes:
- Week 1 - strong run | 0 net turnovers | WiN
- Week 2 - weak run | -2 net turnovers | LOSS
- Week 3 - weak run | -1 net turnovers | LOSS
- Week 4 - strong run | 0 net turnovers | WIN
- Week 5 - weak run | +1 net turnovers | LOSS
- Week 6 - strong run | +1 net turnovers | WIN
So from the data table above, the Rams victories have come with strong rushing efforts. But from the Pittsburgh Steelers so far this season, the key to beating them is to win the turnover battle.
Ah, but if you notice one other trend in the data table above? The Rams have had a +2 net turnover trending over their past three games. When the Rams run, the Rams win. But when the Steelers face a team with a better net turnover rating, the Steelers lose.
Hopefully, the LA Rams will run and protect the football in Week 7.