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Philadelphia Eagles Vs Los Angeles Rams: What The Rams Need To Do To Win

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Controlling the Line of Scrimmage and the Tempo of the Game

Philadelphia Eagles v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Overview

The NFC East Division leading Philadelphia Eagles are matched up against the NFC West Division leading Rams this Sunday in the Coliseum. The Eagles who are at 10-2 look like a “lock{ to win the east. The Rams are 9-3 and need to win this game in order to maintain their one game lead over the Seattle Seahawks in the west.

There is huge amount of excitement surrounding this regular season game. Fox has this contest as the game of the week, if not the year so far and have decided to move their pre-game program from their studio to the Coliseum for a live broadcast. There are also couple of subplots surrounding the game. The first being that this game is a preview of the NFC Conference Championship game and the second being the two vs. one quarterback matchup between Philadelphia’s QB Carson Wentz and the Rams, QB Jared Goff.

The Eagles are coming off a loss in Seattle, while the Rams are coming into the game on a two game win streak.

After Sunday, one of these teams is going to be able silence their doubters, the loser on the other hand will be forced to limp into the playoffs with more questions than answers.

The Eagles don’t really need to win this game to win the east since they have a four game lead over their closet division rival, the Dallas Cowboys; however should Rams fail to earn a win against Philadelphia and the Seahawks defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend, the two teams will be tied at 8-4 in the NFC West. The Rams will then have to travel to Seattle next week for the western division showdown. If the Rams win that game by more then 6 points, they will recover their status as the division leader with one game lead going into the last two weeks of the season.

Looking back to year ago, it’s hard to imagine how the fortunes have changed for both teams. I’m not one of those football people who believe that the Eagles have had the benefit of their schedule which has resulted in the record they have. The same can be said about the Rams.

The Eagles have to be taken seriously. They have played outstanding football. This is why the contest can best be described as a toss up.

In games like this crowd noise, atmosphere, turnovers, penalties will have dramatic effect on the outcome. It’s expected that there maybe more Eagle fans in the stands then Ram fans this Sunday as this is the first time this season that the Rams have a sold out home game.

In most instances, once the game starts all the hype is for naught-its time for the teams to get to work. So let’s see how what its gonna take for the Rams to win this game.

When The Rams Have The Ball

At the start it will interesting to see who wins the coin toss and whether that team chooses the ball over deferring to the second half.

The reason I mention this is that most knowledgeable football fans would say if you win the toss “defer” that way you have a chance to score at the end of the first half and a chance at the start of the second. There is also the thought process that getting the ball first sets the tempo of the game because if score on your first drive, you put your opponent down early.

Thus right in the beginning we will see where the mind set of Doug Peterson and Sean McVay are. Do they want their defense on the field first to challenge the high powered offense of the other team or do they want their offense in order to challenge the other team’s defense.

If there’s one glaring difference between these two teams—its defense against the run. The Eagles are the number one defense against the rush. The Rams rank 27th. Much of the Rams problems in this area can be directly attributable to the many single long runs they have given up in the course of game. Apart from that there isn’t a lot of distinction between the two teams.

As a result, if the Rams win the coin toss, there’s isn’t that much difference between going on offense or defense, although if the Rams do go defense and get a 3-and out, this could be wind up being a important factor in the outcome of the game.

As noted the Rams offense is one of the best in the league. In order to prevail they need to move the chains with a balanced attack. This will keep the Eagles high powered offense off the field.

The Rams need to take advantage of good field position and score touchdowns in the red zone.

RB Todd Gurley needs to be effective in the run game. Wide receivers Sammy Watkins, Josh Reynolds, Cooper Kupp and Pharoh Cooper have to make the catches in critical third passing downs. Tight ends, Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett must also make the catch when called upon.

As for WR Tavon Austin, if the Rams use him it will be both as a decoy and a runner. For the Rams to have any success, Tavon when utilized in the run game must pick up positive yardage, he can’t keep getting negative yards. Run north and south, not east and west—hit the hole and go.

If the Rams can force the tempo of the game into their favor the overall outcome looks good as they will score points. There’s no way the Rams are going to score on every series, or move the chains on every change of possession, but what the Rams must do is control the line of scrimmage at the critical moments in third and short yardage situations.

One has to like to the Rams offense in this game, the real question is what the Rams will do.

When the Eagles Have the Ball

The number one goal of the Rams coming into this game is to stop the Eagles run game. The Rams must keep Philadelphia from easy third and short situations. If the Eagles are forced to be predictable by having to pass, the Rams must unleash DT Aaron Donald and OLB Robert Quinn on QB Carson Wentz.

Wentz-alvaina is not Russell Wilson, but he does have elusiveness. Just when you think the pocket is collapsing around him, he pops out, steps up and makes the throw. He’s got capable wide receivers and tight ends—they’ve been making the plays and that’s why their 10-2.

When the pocket collapses on Wentz the Rams need to close the “A” gaps. This is where Donald and DT Michael Brockers cannot afford to diverge from the assigned roles. By plugging up those gaps, there’s no room for Wentz to step up and down he will go. If Carson tries to skip to the outside, Quinn should be right there wrapping him up for Christmas.

Assuming MLB Alec Ogletree plays or his back Bryce Hager instead, when they blitz, they need to stay in their lanes. They have to go directly to up the middle, forcing Wentz to turn to his left or right right into Donald or Brockers.

If the Rams can close down the runs, keep the pressure on Carson Wentz it will lead to stops—stops the Rams need to get the ball back to their offense.

No team, including the Rams are immune from the big play. The Rams corners, Trumaine Johnson and Keyvon Webster must contain the Eagles wide receivers for the most part. S Larmarcus Joyner and John Johnson III must also have big games. This is especially important for Johnson who must come up and make the tackles if the Eagles running back should they be able to squirm through the defensive line. This was something that was sorely lacking last week against the Arizona Cardinals, but expect the rookie to get it right this week.

Any turnovers the Eagles make would be a plus.

Special Teams

The Rams have in the edge in three important categories on special teams which is 13 of the game. Kickoff and punt returns and punting.

The Rams must play up to expectations as one of the elite special teams units in this league.

Kicking on grass is different. K Greg Zuerlein is having an all pro season so I give a slight edge to him over the Eagles Jake Elliott who has never experienced the coliseum grass and modified playing field.

What To Expect

In order for the Rams to win, they must play their game. This will be real opportunity for the team to showcase their talent, what great set of coaches they have and why they’re a legitimate contender before a nationwide audience watching on their televisions.

For those that will be attending, this will be first time in 30 years that a late season meaningful game to be played in Los Angeles. I expect the crowd of Rams fans to make an impact-excited, rockus and loud.

With all things being considered, the Rams need to send the Eagles fans home singing their famous fight song with the following new versus:

“Cry Eagles Cry. On the road to misery. Sigh, Eagles, sigh. Blow the big games 1,2,3. Miss’em low, loft’em high And watch the Eagles Die! Bye Eagles, bye Bridemaids of the NFC! L-O-S-E-R-S Eagles!”