The Los Angeles Rams have been a pleasant surprise this season. Not many would have had them sitting at 3-3 heading in Week 7’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers may be coming off of a bye, but according to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Rams are three-point favorites at home.
This week begins an important stretch of games for the Rams. They play the Steelers followed by games against the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. So far this season, the Rams have hung around mediocrity and around .500. They had a missed opportunity against a hurt Cincinnati Bengals team and arguably had chances against the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles.
With that said, while the Rams are 3-3, they have been unable to string multiple wins together this season. These next three games will show whether or not the Rams can be playoff contenders or if they’re just going to be that feisty team all season that wins just enough games to not get a earn a top-10 pick, but aren’t good enough to make the postseason. That place is the worst spot to be in sports.
Coming off of a win with an impressive second-half performance against the Arizona Cardinals, the Rams need to be able to carry that momentum into Sunday and start putting some wins together. That’s the next step for this young Rams team. The Steelers will be tough, but at home and at SoFi Stadium will be a perfect opportunity for the Rams to get the job done.
Rams Offense vs. Steelers Defense
The key to this game for the Rams offense will simply be not to beat themselves. That’s what happened when these two teams last played in 2019. Former quarterback Jared Goff threw two interceptions with Johnny Hekker throwing a third. The offense also went 1-for-14 on third downs.
This season, the Steelers defense continues to be the unit that carries that team. They rank sixth in the NFL in takeaways and sacks per game. TJ Watt leads the NFL in sacks and Alex Highsmith isn’t someone to look past either. It’s going to be crucial for the Rams to protect Stafford and not turn the ball over.
Matchup to Watch: Alaric Jackson vs. Alex Highsmith
TJ Watt will typically line up across from the right tackle. This would leave Alaric Jackson to block Alex Highsmith. Highsmith could provide an issue for Jackson. He’s more of a speed rusher who Jackson may struggle with due to his inconsistent footwork. It could be a long day for Jackson on the left side.
Rams Defense vs. Steelers Offense
The Rams defense should be able to get its fair share of stops. This season, the Steelers rank 21st on third-down and 32nd in the red zone. Meanwhile, the Rams are 17th on third-down and eighth in the red zone. The Steelers have the second-most three-and-outs per drive on offense ahead of only the Cincinnati Bengals.
Kenny Pickett shouldn’t give the defense as many issues as Josh Dobbs and Jalen Hurts when it comes to escaping the pocket. Pickett is getting sacked 2.8 times per game and has seen pressure on 43.3 percent of his throws. That’s the fifth-highest rate in the league. It may take a defensive play to win this game, but the defense should have success.
Matchup to Watch: Byron Young vs. Dan Moore Jr.
Moore has been practicing this week with the starters and should return from an MCL injury. However, that may not be a good thing for the Steelers as he has been the worst tackle in pass-protection this season according to Pro Football Focus. His 20 pressures are the 10th most allowed. Look for Morris to exploit that matchup with Young who’s having a very good season as he leads all rookies in pressures. Also, don’t be surprised if Aaron Donald gets some looks as a Wide 9 player on passing downs to exploit that matchup.
I don’t see a lot of points being scored in this game. The Rams offense has struggled to put up points at times this season and the Steelers defense will provide a tough opponents. This could end up being the type of game where a turnover or defensive score ends up being the difference.
If that’s the case, I’m not sure the Rams have the talent on defense to make that kind of impact. Los Angeles has done a good job keeping teams out of the end zone. They allow just 19.5 points per game.
This game could truly end up going either way, but coming off of a bye and getting back Diontae Johnson at wide receiver may give the Steelers the edge. It's going to be close and low-scoring. At the end of the day, it’s going to be about whatever offense doesn’t make the big mistake.
Prediction: Steelers 20, Rams 9