The Los Angeles Rams sit at 2-2 as they head into a Week 5 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles this season. For a team that was supposedly “tanking” heading into the season, the Rams have done a good job at remaining competitive in all of their games.
Taking away game against the Rams in Week 2, the San Francisco 49ers’ wins against the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, and Arizona Cardinals have come by an average of 20 points. The Rams went into the half tied with the 49ers and while it took a back-door cover, they only lost by seven points.
This is a Rams team that has shown that even if they aren’t among the league’s most talented team, they are going to be competitive. If overlooked, they have the ability to take advantage of that mindset and pull off an upset. Look no further than Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks.
However, at what point do the expectations begin to move past “just be competitive” against the better opponents to “this team can win those games”?
The Rams are currently four point underdogs against the Eagles at home on Sunday according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Both the Eagles and Rams needed overtime to win last week. Philadelphia has played three one-score games and are 3-0 in those games. If the Rams can make this close, could they pull off the upset?
Rams Offense vs. Eagles Defense
It might drive Rams fans crazy, but this is a game where Sean McVay needs to use the pass to setup the run. Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell threw 41 times for 291 yards last week. Two weeks earlier, Kirk Cousins had 364 yards passing to go with four touchdowns for the Minnesota Vikings.
The Eagles secondary can be attacked. This season, the Rams lead the NFL in passes completed inside the hashes with 25. Meanwhile, the Eagles secondary ranks 30th in EPA in defending those passes inside the hashes. Looks for the Rams to exploit the middle of the field with Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp.
Matchup to Watch: Steve Avila vs. Jalen Carter
It’s going to be interesting to see how often Jalen Carter lines up across from Steve Avila. Carter is arguably the Defensive Rookie of the Year through four weeks. Avila has been impressive on the interior for the Rams offensive line this season. The last time these two players went head-to-head was in the National Championship Game.
Rams Defense vs. Eagles Offense
Much like playing against the San Francisco 49ers, the Rams are going to be tested to make tackles in the run game. The Eagles rank first in success-rate on offense when running the ball while the Rams rank seventh in defensive success-rate when stopping the run. However, in Week 2 against the 49ers, the Rams only ranked 13th for that week.
The Eagles are going to test the Rams on the edges and they’ll field an offensive line that isn’t afraid to get physical. It’s going to be important for the Rams defensive line not to get beat at the point of attack. A big deal will be made about the “tush push”, but it’s everything else that the Rams need to be able to handle first.
Matchup to Watch: DeVonta Smith vs. Derion Kendrick
While not the case this year, the Eagles were one of the more explosive offenses in the NFL. A big reason for that Jalen Hurts’ ability to hit the deep ball. While AJ Brown and Quez Watkins can win deep, the big threat here will be DeVonta Smith. The Eagles will most certainly test him against Kendrick. It will be important for the Rams cornerback to be up for the task.
This is going to be a game in which McVay is going to want to win through the air and that’s exactly how he should approach it. The Eagles secondary can be attacked. However, it won’t be that simple considering the injury situation at the left tackle position. If the Rams are lining up Zach Thomas or Warren McClendon at left tackle, they won’t be able to line up in empty as often.
Much like the 49ers game, I do see the Rams remaining competitive, but the Eagles just proving to be too much as the game goes on. The Rams will make this close, but the Eagles are better in the trenches and that’s where this game will be won.
Prediction: Eagles 34, Rams 30