The Colts are coming off a tough 28-16 defeat at home against the Seattle Seahawks, so they’ll be looking to bounce back with the Los Angeles Rams coming to town. There’s a ton of key Colts players who have not practiced all week, so we’re going to have to keep an eye on that going into the weekend. But regardless of those injuries, they’re still a well-coached team with a powerful running game and an offensive line that is arguably the best in the National Football League.
The Rams came out hot right out of the gate in Week 1, what can they do in this one to remain hot against an underrated Indianapolis team who are desperate for a win?
The last time these two teams matched up was in 2017, when Rams head coach Sean McVay made his debut with the team in which they won big 46-9. But these teams are completely different from 2017, no defensive starter that was playing that game is currently with the Rams.
You might say what about Aaron Donald? He held out that game due to his contract.
Both teams have gotten better since then, so what needs to happen for the Rams to come out on top in this one?
#1 - Win in the trenches
In the latest PFF offensive line rankings, the Colts ranked #2 right behind the Cleveland Browns. But they might be without their best lineman this week as Quenton Nelson has been held out of practice every day thus far. As big as a loss that would be to their team for this game in particular, they still have tackle Eric Fisher who is supposed to be coming back this week from his Achilles injury, and Ryan Kelly who is one of the more underrated linemen in the league.
Linebacker Justin Hollins had a tremendous game in Week 1 and we need him to repeat that performance this week. He or Lewis needs to step up because we know Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd will do their job. The Rams are familiar with quarterback Carson Wentz with the many times they’ve matched up in the past, when he has a clean pocket, he can be dangerous so the defense needs to get pressure and get him off his mark.
#2 - Stay aggressive in the passing game
Quarterback Matthew Stafford in Week 1 threw 2 touchdowns that went 50+ yards in the air. With Colts cornerback Xavier Rhodes missing practice again, it’ll be smart to test their defensive backs in this one. Indianapolis is one of the better run-stopping teams in the NFL, so I could see this game playing out similar to the game against the Chicago Bears where the run game didn’t get going until the 4th quarter.
In the Colts Week 1 matchup against Seattle, quarterback Russell Wilson threw for four touchdowns and 254 yards while obtaining a passer rating of 152.3. Indianapolis got plenty of pressure on Wilson but he was able to exploit the secondary and was successful with the deep ball. I expect the Rams offense to emulate what the Seahawks did to the Colts and pass for a bunch of touchdowns.
#3 - Stop the run
I know the Rams defense plays light box too where they prioritize coverage as opposed to stopping the run and that was probably the game plan with the Bears hence Montgomery having the success he did, but running back Jonathan Taylor is a downhill physical runner who can be a home run back at any time.
In 2020, Taylor led the league last year in rushing yards for all rookies and had the 3rd most first downs right behind RBs Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook. He finished with 13 touchdowns which were impressive for a rookie. If the Rams want to secure this victory, they need to limit the big runs from him but also keep an eye on the QB keeper as we know Wentz doesn’t mind taking it himself in big situations.
Most first down rushes in 2020:— PFF (@PFF) January 8, 2021
1. Derrick Henry - 97
2. Dalvin Cook - 91
3. Jonathan Taylor - 69
4. Ezekiel Elliott - 62 pic.twitter.com/mtycxS9uM7
Fortunately, the Rams are accustomed to QBs who can move with having Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray in the division, so I don’t see this as much of a challenge for them.