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Rams-Ravens: 4 bold predictions as the Rams attempt to maintain first place in NFC West

Rookie Jake Funk gets his first touchdown of career

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Indianapolis Colts Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams will travel across the country to take on the Baltimore Ravens at their home with many hoping for redemption as 4.5 point favorites accord to DraftKings Sportsbook. It may have been two years ago, but the last time these two teams met each other on the gridiron, Baltimore absolutely embarrassed the NFC champions in a 45-6 victory.

Lamar Jackson threw a touchdown pass on 25% of his throws, finishing the game with 169 yards passing, 95 yards rushing, and five touchdowns through the air on just 20 attempts. Running back Mark Ingram would not be bested by his quarterback that day, finishing the match with 111 yards rushing on 15 attempts—a ridiculous average of 7.4 yards per run. Jared Goff was intercepted twice, one of which was by former Rams player Marcus Peters, who was traded away in an ugly breakup to the Ravens in the middle of the 2019 season.

The loss would be one of the seven that would keep Sean McVay and his team out of the playoffs for the first time in his career after just a season removed from a Super Bowl appearance. The loss to Baltimore may go down as one of his worst games as a head coach, but you can bet he will be looking for vindication against them this time around—here are my bold predictions for McVay’s revenge game.

Jake Funk, not Cam Akers, is the number two option behind Sony

The injury bug has not been kind to the Rams backfield this season. After losing Cam Akers to what appeared to be a season-ending injury at the end of OTAs, they also lost seventh rounder Jake Funk in the middle of October, and will most recently will be without Darrell Henderson after he tore his MCL. Both Akers and Funk have made miraculous recoveries and are slated to back up Sony Michel with Henderson moving to an injured reserve designation, but I predict that it will be Funk subbing in for Michel instead of Akers, and the rookie gets his first touchdown of his career against the Ravens.

Los Angeles has already cashed their ticket into the playoffs and currently sit atop the NFC West. Though they can improve their seeding slightly, the addition of an extra playoff team that began in 2020 means only one team can get a bye in the first rounds of postseason play. After losing to the Green Bay Packers this season, it is unlikely the Rams can push for first seed, making it less likely they put Akers on the field for less-than-meaningful games. Instead, I believe the plan for him is to get one or two carries to boost his confidence while also avoiding putting his health in jeopardy before the start of postseason action.

With Akers on the sidelines for what should be most of the match, Funk will be the one taking backup duties to Sony, though that will not mean much. Last week Sony had every single rushing attempt in the backfield apart from two attempts, one 17 yard rush that lead to Henderson’s injury, and a single attempt by Funk that ended in a loss of a yard—but that will be different this week.

After watching the Cincinnati Bengals put up a record-breaking showing against the Ravens last week, I believe that the Rams will have no problem putting points up against Baltimore’s decimated defense.

With an early lead that LA never gives up, Funk will have his fair shots at running back; a goal line run should be just the attempt he needs to get his first touchdown in the regular season.

Von Miller adds two sacks to his resume

When the news was announced that former Super Bowl MVP and future Hall of Famer Von Miller was joining the Rams in a trade between them and the Denver Broncos, many salivated at the concept of putting him next to the like of Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd—so much so that it was forgotten that he would need time to acclimate with his new team. Miller may not be adding much to his career sack totals thus far, but over the course of six weeks has steadily increased his playing time as he gains more confidence. Against the Vikings, he played 89% of the snaps, the highest percentage he’s been on the field since being traded to LA.

His best game as a Ram came in Week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks. Miller finished the game with a sack, six combined tackles, and two QB hits against one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the league, Russell Wilson. His performance was what many had expected to get out of him right out the gates, but he may be peaking at just the right time with playoffs looming in the distance.

With the possibility of rain this Sunday, a classic frigid day in Baltimore, and Tyler Huntley as the starting quarterback for the Ravens, it will be likely that John Harbaugh turns his offense over to his backfield often. The focus on the run will give the defensive line plenty of opportunities to make impactful plays, but it will be Miller making the most of it. I believe that Miller gets his marquee game as a Ram this week against the Ravens, and predict the Miller not only gets two sacks, but is the lead tackler for Los Angeles by the end of the game.

Rams get burned by X-factor Mark Andrews

The Ravens have had a carousel of quarterbacks playing for them this season due to injury and Covid-19 regulations. No matter who is throwing the ball, however, tight end Mark Andrews seems to always find success on gameday. Currently he is the hot hand after putting together three straight 100+ yard performances, his most recent coming against the Bengals. He finished the game with 125 receiving yards and a touchdown, giving him his fourth touchdown in just three games.

He may have a chance to put together his fourth straight game over 100 yards receiving this weekend against the Rams. LA will be without its starting linebacker, rookie Ernest Jones, and may also have lost Taylor Rapp for at least this week after he missed practice on Thursday, though recent reports have him expecting to play. Even with Rapp on the field, the Rams defenders will have their hands full dealing with Andrews.

Raheem Morris may have to rely on star defensive back Jalen Ramsey to cover Baltimore’s star tight end. Ramsey has seen action in coverage against the position this season, most memorably in Week 10 against 49ers tight end George Kittle.

Regardless of who rotates on coverage against Andrews, I predict the fourth year tight end puts together another 100+ yard performance and adds a touchdown to his hot streak this weekend against LA.

Stafford protects the ball, throws three touchdowns

Matthew Stafford garnered much criticism this week after throwing three interceptions against the Vikings. The veteran QB has been streaky at times—throwing head-scratching turnovers deep in his own territory multiple times, but also showing off his elite arm talent and incredible no-look passes during occasion.

After watching the tape that the Ravens put together last week, which saw Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow torch the secondary for 525 yards and four touchdowns, I believe it will be one of those games that we are all reminded of how good the Rams quarterback can be— I predict Stafford finishes the game without a single turnover and finds his receivers for three touchdown passes on the day.

What are your bold predictions this week? Let’s discuss in the comments below!