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Could Rams defense stop Patriots’ relentless rushing attack?

New England passed the ball three times in a Monday night win over the Bills’ top-ranked defense

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills came into Week 13 as the top-ranked defense in the NFL by DVOA, including a top-five ranking against the run. Even as of Tuesday morning, hours after finding out that Bill Belichick still owns them, the Bills rank as a top-three defense pretty much across that board.

That did not matter in Monday night’s 14-10 loss to the New England Patriots, a game in which quarterback Mac Jones threw one entire pass through three-and-a-half quarters. Jones then went 1-of-2 for seven yards on New England’s fourth three-and-out drive of the game. But 14 points was more than enough to defeat Buffalo and the Patriots ran the ball 46 times for 222 yards.

On the Manningcast, Peyton Manning routinely called it that New England was going to run the ball and despite how obvious it was that the Patriots were not going to throw the football, the Bills were completely unable to make the stops or get the turnovers that they needed if they wanted to win.

In 36 degree weather with 19 mph winds, Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen went 15-of-30 for 145 yards. Not feeling prepared or capable to run as often as the Patriots did in such conditions, the Bills got embarrassed on ESPN and fell to 7-5.

But could the Los Angeles Rams hope to do any better against the Patriots?

The Rams hosted the Patriots for a Thursday night game last season, winning 24-3. But that New England offense was led by Cam Newton and the Pats ran the ball just 29 times for 107 yards. LA, as you know, led the NFL in many key defensive categories.

This season, the Rams ranked 16th in scoring defense, but are second in yards per carry allowed and second in DVOA against the run. Only the New Orleans Saints rank higher against the run by either DVOA or YPC; the Saints defeated the Patriots 28-13 in Week 3, holding them to just 49 rushing yards and forcing three turnovers.

Perhaps that game served as a “What to do, what not to do” for Belichick in other key situations where he felt he had to run the ball against a good run defense.

The Rams will not face that Patriots this season unless it is in the Super Bowl and they have much bigger lobsters to fry without considering New England as a threat, but if they had to stop a rushing attack like that one, could they?

Do Aaron Donald, Greg Gaines, Ernest Jones, Troy Reeder, Leonard Floyd, Jalen Ramsey, Taylor Rapp and company have enough firepower to stop Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, or a similar rushing attack from the likes of Tampa Bay, Green Bay, or San Francisco?

Scenario: Rams face a team that decides to run the ball on every play. What happens next?


Could the Rams stop a rush-only offensive attack like Belichick’s?

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