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Game Preview: Patriots at Rams

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WEEK 14 · Thu 12/10 · 8:20 PM EST

Patriots

New England Patriots

AT

Rams

Los Angeles Rams

FOX / NFLN / Patriots App
98.5 FM The Sports Hub
SOFI STADIUM

The New England Patriots improved to a 6-6 record with a 45-0 victory at the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. New England began the season 2-5 and have since compiled a 4-1 record since the beginning of November.

The Patriots will remain on the West Coast to prepare for a Thursday Night Football matchup against the L.A. Rams at SoFi Stadium.

The Patriots currently have the second-longest streak in NFL history with 19 winning seasons, to the 20 straight by Dallas (1966-1985)

SERIES HISTORY

The New England Patriots will face the Los Angeles Rams for the first time since their 13-3 Super Bowl LIII victory on Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta.

The Patriots will play the Rams in Los Angeles for the first time since a 14-0 loss on Sept. 13, 1992, when the franchise was located in Southern California, prior to their move to St. Louis.

The two clubs have played 12 times in the regular season and twice in the Super Bowl. In addition to Super Bowl LIII, the two teams met in Super Bowl XXXVI following the 2001 season, a 24-17 New England win.

New England scored one of the greatest victories in franchise history when the Patriots defeated the heavily favored Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. That victory followed a tight game in the 2001 regular season that ended in a 24-17 St. Louis victory at Foxboro Stadium.

The franchise moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis following the 1994 season and returned to Los Angeles in 2017.

In their last regular season meeting, the Patriots defeated the Rams, 26-10, at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 4, 2016. Including both Super Bowls wins, the Patriots have won the last six meetings.

Overall, the Patriots lead the series by a 9-5 margin, including a 2-1 record against the Rams in Los Angeles.

The series dates back to 1974, when the Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams by a 20-14 score at what was then Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough.

Patriots.com's Mike Dussault shares his players to watch ahead of the Patriots matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.

SERIES BREAKDOWN

Overall Record: 9-5

Home Record: 3-3

  • Gillette Stadium: 3-0
  • Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium: 1-3

Road Record: 4-2

  • Anaheim Stadium: 2-1
  • Trans World/Edward Jones Dome: 1-1
  • Wembley Stadium: 1-0

Neutral Site Record (at Louisiana Superdome): 2-0

Total Points: Patriots 307, Rams 235

Longest winning streak: 5 games

Longest losing streak: 4 games (12/24/89 – 11/18/01)

Bill Belichick vs. St. Louis/L.A: .6-2 (6-1 with New England)

SCOUTING THE MATCHUPS

By Paul Perillo

When the Patriots run - Edge: Rams

The challenges the Patriots offense have faced this season have been plenty. A new quarterback trying to learn the system alongside young and unproven pass catchers with a rotating cast of offensive linemen certainly all qualify. But the unit will face its biggest test this season Thursday night against the Rams defense. That is certainly true for the run game, which bounced back with a solid effort last week against the Chargers. Damien Harris got off to a great start in LA on Sunday and wound averaging 5 yards per carry en route to an 80-yard effort. Cam Newton also chipped in with a pair of rushing touchdowns. But things figure to be significantly more difficult against the Rams third-ranked run defense, which allows just 93 yards a game and 3.9 yards per carry, which is tops in the league. Aaron Donald gets much of the credit for that, and rightly so, but he is not alone. Sebastian Joseph-Day mans the middle while veteran Michael Brockers plays the end opposite Donald in the Rams 3-4 front. Linebackers Troy Reeder and Kenny Young fill effectively on the inside. This group was outplayed two weeks ago against the 49ers before bouncing back with a strong effort against the Cardinals vaunted ground attack on Sunday, limiting Kyler Murray (15 yards) & Co. to only 92 yards rushing. The Patriots offensive line must meet the physical challenge up front and allow Harris some success early in the game. Otherwise the Patriots may be forced to play catch up through the air.

When the Patriots pass - Edge: Rams

Los Angeles isn't much easier to throw against, and the numbers back that up. The Rams secondary of Jalen Ramsey, Troy Hill, John Johnson and Jordan Fuller has been excellent all season, limiting passing attacks to 198 yards per game (third in NFL) and 5.5 yards per pass play, which is tops in the league. Newton has endured his share of struggles, and even in last week's blowout win he still managed just 69 passing yards while completing 12 of 19 throws. He'll need more from Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers against the stingy Rams defense, which can also generate heat on the passer without blitzing. Los Angeles has 36 sacks on the season, led by 11 from Donald and 7 from the rejuvenated Leonard Floyd. The Rams ranks fifth in the league in sacks per pass play with a success rate of 8.3 percent. The key for the Patriots will be to avoid negative plays on first down and maintain the ability to be balanced. If Newton is forced to play from behind and has to throw downfield into this secondary, it could be a long night. But if Harris can keep the Rams honest and Newton can use his legs to move the chains like he did against the Chargers, the Patriots chances will improve dramatically.

When the Rams run - Edge: Patriots

The Rams have a solid running game using a host of different ball carriers. Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown and rookie Cam Akers all have at least 80 carries and 357 yards rushing this season while averaging better than 4 yards per carry. As a team the Rams are tied for fourth in the league, averaging 124 yards per game on the ground, but in terms of average they rank 11th at 4.1 yards per carry. The Patriots run defense turned the corner last month against Baltimore and hasn't looked back. The effort up front has been much better since the Ravens game as the addition of players like Akeem Spence has given some help to Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler and Ja'Whaun Bentley in the run-stopping department. The Rams trio isn't flashy but its straight-ahead style has been productive and important for Sean McVay's offense in its quest to stay balanced in order to utilize the play-action game. Those top three ball carriers have combined for 12 rushing touchdowns with Brown and Henderson leading the way with five each. The Patriots cannot allow the Rams to get going on the ground because that's what McVay's offense in predicated upon. This will be a big test for the suddenly rejuvenated front, but based on their recent play it's one they should pass.

When the Rams pass - Edge: Rams

Jared Goff remains one of the league's most enigmatic quarterbacks. On most weeks his numbers represent one the league's better passers. Take Sunday in Arizona as an example when he competed 37 of 47 passes for 351 yards and a touchdown as the Rams piled up 38 points against the Cardinals. But a closer look shows how McVay likes to use Goff, calling for many play-action boots and quick, short throws that are often dictated by rhythm and timing. In Arizona the vast majority of those passes travelled less than 10 yards in the air and Goff was comfortable throughout. Then there are games like the week prior against San Francisco when Goff was pressured early and often and tossed a pair of interceptions while completing just 19 of 31 passes for 198 yards. The Patriots are quite familiar with that Goff because he's the one they saw back in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. Goff was flustered by the Patriots pressure and ever-changing coverages and never got going that night as New England took home title No. 6. Stephon Gilmore was a big part of that success and he will need to continue his strong play if a repeat is in order. With J.C. Jackson (leg/hip) and Jonathan Jones (neck) nursing injuries, Gilmore will need to lead the way on the back end. The Rams have a deep crop of receivers led by Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds and Van Jefferson. They also have some talented tight ends in Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee. It's the kind of diverse group of weapons that has given the Patriots trouble (think Houston a few weeks back), but the difference may be the ability to get pressure. New England has turned in back-to-back strong efforts in the pass rush, and that will be vital on Thursday night. If Goff gets comfortable it could be a long night.

Special Teams - Edge: Patriots

It would be hard for any unit to put forth a pair of better games than the Patriots have on special teams over the last two outings. Three long punt returns (one for a touchdown) and a lengthy kick return, a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown and a handful of punts downed inside the 10, none better than the one Justin Bethel kept out of the end zone in LA against the Chargers on Sunday plus a 50-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. That's a season's worth of special teams highlights for most teams but the Patriots did all that in wins over Arizona and the Chargers. Given the momentum these huge plays have generated it's impossible to not give New England the edge here. Nick Folk's streak is now up to 20 straight field goals while Jake Bailey continued his Pro Bowl-level punting. The Rams have struggled in the kicking game with Matt Gay representing the team's third kicker of the season. Steve Sloman, Kai Forbath and Gay have combined to miss six of 21 field goals and four of 36 PATs, so the Patriots have a decided edge in there. Gunner Olszewski is on fire as well with three huge returns including a touchdown in his last two games. The Rams have also been susceptible to returns so that's an area to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, Rams punter Johnny Hekker remains one of the best in the business.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Table inside Article
2020 REGULAR SEASON NEW ENGLAND LOS ANGELES RAMS
Record 6-6 8-4
Divisional Standings 3rd 1st
Total Yards Gained 4,108 4,744
Total Offense (Rank) 342.3 (22) 395.3 (3)
Rush Offense 150.9 (3) 124.2 (8T)
Pass Offense 191.4 (30) 271.2 (5)
Points Per Game 22.8 (23) 25.0 (17)
Total Yards Allowed 4,135 3,496
Total Defense (Rank) 344.6 (12) 291.3 (2)
Rush Defense 118.8 (18) 93.1 (3)
Pass Defense 225.8 (13T) 198.3 (3)
Points Allowed/Game 21.3 (7) 20.3 (5)
Possession Avg. 30:29 32:01
Sacks Allowed / Yards Lost 22/133 16/118
Sacks Made / Yards 18/121 36/252
Passing TD/Int (off.) 8/13 17/10
Passing TD/Int (def.) 16/14 14/12
Total Touchdowns 31 37
Penalties Against/Yards 45/415 51/494
Punts/Avg. 34/48.3 49/46.6
Field Goals Made/Att. 20/22 15/21
Takeaway/Giveaway Ratio +1 (14t) 0 (17T)

SUPER BOWL REMATCH

Super Bowl LIII between the Patriots and Rams was the seventh Super Bowl rematch in NFL history. The game marked the third instance that the Patriots were involved in a Super Bowl rematch, after facing the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles in two Super Bowls. Dallas is the only other NFL teams with two different Super Bowl rematches.

PATRIOTS ON THURSDAY

The Patriots will play on Thursday for the 21st time in team history. New England is 14-6 on Thursday entering this week's contest against the Rams.

CONNECTIONS

A look at the connections between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams.

FORMER PATRIOTS

  • DE Derek Rivers – (2018-20).... Won Super Bolw LIII with the Patriots
  • Ast. OLC Andy Dickerson – (Operations Intern 2004-05) (Football Ops Ast. 2005)
  • OC Kevin O'Connell – Drafted 94th overall in 2008 as a quarterback. Spent one year with the team.
  • Pass Game Coordinator Shane Waldron – (Operations 2002-04) (OQC 2008) (TEC 2009) - Was part of the Super Bowl XXXVIII and XXVIX teams
  • Director of Pro Scouting Ray Agnew – (DT 1990-94)

FORMER RAMS

  • DB Cody Davis (2013-17)
  • QBC Jedd Fisch - (Offensive Assistant. 2018-19)
  • OC Josh McDaniels - (OC 2011)

WORTH NOTING

  • Rams assistant wide receivers coach Zac Robinson was drafted by the Patriots 250th overall in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. He spent one season on the practice squad in New England.
  • L.A. cornerback Troy Hill spent a brief period of time with the Patriots in 2015 after being released by Cincinnati on December 24th. Five days later, the Rams claimed him off waivers.

IF THE PATRIOTS WIN...

  • New England will improve on their NFL-best 90-31 record during the month of December since 1994, when Robert Kraft purchased the team.
  • And a player eclipses 100 yards rushing, the team will improve to 54-3 since the 2000 regular season when a player rushes for at least 100 yards.
  • And the team does not commit a turnover, New England will win its 73rd game since 2008 without committing a turnover. The Patriots enter Week 14 with a 72-10 record in zero turnover games since 2008.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR...

  • Last week, the Patriots won with a 45-0 shutout victory over the L.A. Chargers. The team last achieved back-to-back shutout wins in 1982, with a 3-0 win vs. Miami on Dec. 12 followed by a 16-0 win at Seattle on Dec. 19.
  • The New England rushing attack enters this week third in the NFL, averaging 150.9 rushing yards per game (1,811 total rushing yards), on pace for 2,415 rushing yards for the season. That would rank fourth in team annals behind the 3,165 rushing yards in 1978, 2,948 in 1976 and 2,605 in 1983.
  • The Patriots are averaging 4.55 yards per rushing attempt (398 rushes for 1,811 yards). If the team holds that pace, it would mark the fifth-highest average in team history.
  • Damien Harris (3) and Sony Michel (1) have combined for four 100-yard rushing performances so far in 2020, the most since 2007 (5).
2020-BroadcastInfo-PDC-wk14-rams

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: : This week's game will be broadcast by FOX and can be seen locally on WFXT Channel 25. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties with Troy Aikman as the color analyst. Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink will work from the sidelines. The game will be produced by Richie Zyontz and directed by Rich Russo. The game will also stream on Amazon with Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm calling the game.

NATIONAL RADIO: Thursday's game will be broadcast to a national audience on Westwood One. Spero Dedes will call the with game with Terrell Davis providing analysis.

SATELLITE RADIO: SIRIUS: 81 (NE), 83 (LAR) - XM: 226 (NE), 225 (LAR), 88 (National)

LOCAL RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 38 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis. The games are produced by Marc Cappello.

For more info on how to watch and listen to this week's game be sure to check out our expanded broadcast guide.

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