According to 3kapedia, the Rams did not play a football game last week. They were on the way to the stadium when an elderly lady called out for help. Apparently, she had spilled something on her shoes, and the entire franchise spent the day cleaning her shoes. Yes, that is what happened. Yes it is.
Breakdown after the jump.
For game-related info, check out the SBN page for the game. For Chargers news leading up the game, head over to Bolts from the Blue.
Conventional stats are taken from Yahoo! Sports and NFL.com; advanced stats from Football Outsiders. Feel free to suggest other statistics you would like to see included.
St. Louis Rams, 2-3: 3rd, NFC West
San Diego Chargers, 2-3: t-2nd, AFC West
STL pass - 115/203, 56.65 cmp% (25th), 1,081 yds, 6 TD, 8 INT
5.33 yds/att, 216.20 yds/gm (17th), -16.5% passing offense DVOA (28th)
SD pass D - 84/149, 53.38 cmp% (6th), 799 yds, 4 TD, 7 INT
5.36 yds/att, 159.80 yds/gm (3rd), 13.0% passing defense DVOA (22nd)
San Diego's CBs play very physically, and do it very well. Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason do a good job of disrupting opposing passing attacks off the line. The Rams are going to have to work off the line to get open. Don't hold your breath. The Chargers also have an underrated free safety in Eric Weddle, though he is shorter than you would hope for in a free safety.
One of the few bright spots in the passing game, other than the raw fact that Sam Bradford wears a Rams' uniform, has been success on third downs. Despite a lack of options, the Rams are converting third downs at a 40% clip, which is a huge success considering the Chargers are running a 41% conversion rate.
With Mark Clayton gone for the season, the big question is where the plays are going to come from. Pat Shurmur knows he can't target Danny Amendola 20 plays a game, but when Brandon Gibson and Laurent Robinson are your primary WR options, it makes things incredibly difficult. Mardy Gilyard has an opportunity to step up, and everyone's favorite dark horse Danario Alexander might be rushed into action.
STL run - 138 att, 509 yds, 3.69 yds/att (26th), 101.80 yds/gm (21st), 2 TD, 0 fumb
-17.3% rushing offense DVOA (28th)
SD run D - 115 att, 432 yds, 3.76 yds/att (8th), 86.40 yds/gm (7th), 2 TD, 1 fumb
-11.9% rushing defense DVOA (13th)
Steven Jackson is closing in on becoming the Rams' all-time leading rusher, needing just 141 yards to surpass Eric Dickerson. WIth his groin now at 100%, it won't be long before it happens. It likely won't come tomorrow, as the Chargers run a pretty stout 3-4 that does a good job at limiting big runs. ILBs Stephen Cooper and Kevin Burnett bottle up the middle effectively, so Action Jacksin might find what success he can on the outside.
STL O-line - 11 sacks allowed (t-20th), 24 QB hits allowed (t-19th)
3.52 Adj. Line Yds (27th), ranked 11th in pass protection
SD D-line - 18 sacks (4th)
3.80 Adj. Line Yds allowed (9th), ranked 2nd in pass protection allowed
San Diego has been great at the line despite the loss of OLB Shawne Merriman. I'm a big fan of Luis Castillo, the Chargers' RDE. He does a good job at holding his slot and allowing the LBs to make plays. I expect that to be obvious on Sunday unless the Rams' O-line starts blocking better, especially in the run game.
Football Outsiders sets our ALY at 27th, but just by watching the tape, you can tell this isn't a good run blocking team. I don't know if I should even put a 'yet' at the end of that, because 5 games into the season, I'm not seeing much improvement on that front. That's especially painful because the Rams rarely go through a stretch with their offensive line being as healthy as they've been this season.
SD pass - 116/184, 63.04% (9th), 1,689 yds, 11 TD, 4 INT
9.18 yds/att, 337.80 yds/gm (1st), 55.0% passing offense DVOA (2nd)
STL pass D - 103/181, 56.91% (8th), 1,156 yds, 6 TD, 4 INT
6.39 yds/att, 231.20 yds/gm (22nd), 13.0% passing defense DVOA (22nd)
No Vincent Jackson, no problem. Philip Rivers deserves to be in the discussion with the top QBs in the league. He's making guys like Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee stand out, the kind of effect Peyton has on his WRs and Brees has on his.
This is yet another test for Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher, who have been strong in coverage, but, well, I think we know why Bartell's a CB and not a WR. If there's one area Bartell can improve on, it's finishing plays after holding his coverage.
SD run - 144 att, 620 yds, 4.31 yds/att (15th), 124.00 yds/gm (12th), 5 TD, 5 fumb
1.1% rushing offense DVOA (14th)
STL run D - 128 att, 554 yds, 4.33 yds/att (19th), 110.80 yds/gm (16th), 1 TD, 3 fumb
-12.5% rushing defense DVOA (9th)
Ryan Matthews is going to be a legit NFL runner, but he's struggled out of the gate. The Rams have to keep limit him and force Sproles and Jacob Hester to step up. If the Rams become the first team to let Matthews run wild, it's not going to be pretty.
And while James Laurinaitis is stupid good, we don't have any OLBs that change games or can bring consistency in any aspect, save for David Vobora who could be a solid depth option for the next few years in St. Louis.
SD O-line - 11 sacks allowed (t-20th), 20 QB hits allowed (t-13th)
4.20 Adj. Line Yds (13th), ranked 17th in pass protection
STL D-line - 10 sacks (t-13th)
4.07 Adj. Line Yds (21st) allowed, ranked 24th in pass protection allowed
Why did Marcus McNeill have to come back now? He's got arguably the best footwork of any LT in the league. And I think Kris Dielman and Nick Hardwick are great starting options on the inside. This is a tough matchup for the Rams' defensive line who just cant do much without a blitzing scheme to disguise their deficiencies.
This week's top 3 storylines brought to you by three special things:
1.) The Rams' special teams
We've got to play a better 60 minutes in special teams this weekend. Not just because we have room to improve, but...
2.) The Chargers' special teams
San Diego's special teams are hot garbage. Seriously. We have to make something of this matchup.
3.) Mike Singletary
Don't leave me when I need you most. And tell Jed York to stop texting ESPN. It's unbecoming of the rich to text. Just buy a homeless person and have him hand deliver the message.