The Los Angeles Rams play the Denver Broncos on Christmas and in spite of their 4-10 record, Sean McVay’s team is 3.5-point favorites according to DraftKings Sportsbook. When the schedule was created, this was a matchup that many were looking forward to. With the Rams and Broncos both sitting at 4-10, there will be many more draft implications than playoff implications in this game.
Here are five things that the Rams need to do to get the win on Christmas.
1. Stay Balanced on Offense
The Broncos defense is the strength of their team. However, it’s important for the Rams to remain balanced in their play-calling. The Broncos have the number one pass defense in EPA, but only rank 20th against the run.
The Rams got away from the run last week despite Cam Akers averaging over five yards per carry. Akers ran the ball just 12 times against the Green Bay Packers. With Baker Mayfield under center, the Rams need to remain balanced on the offensive side of the ball.
2. Don’t Give up the Big Play
Despite trading for Russell Wilson in the offseason, the Broncos offense has struggled. However, much like in Seattle, Wilson’s deep ball remains one of the best in the NFL. It’s going to be important for the Rams to play their deep shell and make Wilson and the Broncos offense work their way down the field.
The defense can’t make it easier on the Broncos offense by giving up big chunks. The Rams defensive backs have been susceptible to the deep ball at times this season. They’ll need to be ready for it on Sunday.
3. Win in the Red Zone
Both of these teams defenses step up in the red zone and play a bend, but don’t break style of play. Only the Broncos have allowed a lower touchdown rate in the red zone than the Rams.
The Broncos have had their offensive struggles in the red zone this season. They’ve been better in recent weeks, but still rank just 25th in red zone touchdown percentage. The Rams have been slightly better, ranking 14th in touchdown percentage once they get in the red zone. One touchdown might win this game. Whoever is able to punch the ball across the goal line is going to have the upper-hand.
4. Protect Baker Mayfield
The Rams gave up five sacks last week against the Packers and four sacks the week before against the Las Vegas Raiders. Mayfield was under pressure on 40.7 percent of his throws against the Packers and despite four sacks, just 26.8 percent of his dropbacks against the Raiders.
If the Rams protect Mayfield, he’s capable of making all of the throws that the Rams will ask him to make. However, the offensive line has struggled at times this season and will be without center Brian Allen once again.
5. Enjoy the Moment
The Rams won’t have a lot to play for, but playing on Christmas is pretty special. This will be the first time that the Rams have ever played on Christmas while this will be the Broncos’ fourth Christmas game in franchise history.
At 4-10, the Rams have nothing to lose and don’t have the normal pressure of being a defending Super Bowl champion at this point in the season.