The Los Angeles Rams will be going for their fourth straight win on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. It will be a good test for the Rams at a time in which they are playing some of the best football that they’ve played all season. Lamar Jackson’s record against the NFC is well-documented. Here are five keys to victory for the Rams against the Ravens.
1. Lean On Kyren Williams
The Rams played a really good defense last week against the Cleveland Browns. However, there is an argument to be made that the Ravens defense is better. Mike MacDonald has done a good job in year two and will be in the head coach conversation later this winter. With that being said, there is one place this Ravens defense can be attacked and that’s one the ground.
In the Browns’ win over the Ravens, Jerome Ford averaged over six yards per carry on his way to 107 yards. When the Ravens lost to the Colts early in the season, Zach Moss had 30 carries for 122 yards. This Ravens defense can be exploited on the ground. They rank 12th in run defense success-rate. They aren’t bad against the run, but it’s the favorable matchup. It’s worth noting, Ford averaged 5.1 yards per carry around the right end in Week 10 which is where the Rams have been really successful running the ball this season.
2. Limit Damage from Ravens run game
There’s no stopping the Ravens run game. It’s by far the best rushing offense in the NFL and Lamar Jackson is a big reason for that. Baltimore averages 0.061 EPA per rush. The gap between them and the Miami Dolphins at two is about the same as the gap between the Dolphins at two and Chicago Bears at eight.
When the game is within one-score, the Ravens run the ball 53 percent of the time. It’s going to be important for the Rams defense to limit explosives in the run game. The player’s to watch in that aspect are Keaton Mitchell and Jackson. If the Rams can limit the 15+ yard runs, they’ll be in good shape.
3. Stick With Quick Passing Game
Jadeveon Clowney ranks sixth in the NFL in pass-rush win-rate. As a team, the Ravens only rank 12th, but they also lead the NFL in sacks with 47. Baltimore doesn’t have a Myles Garrett, but they need to stick with the quick passing game that they utilized last week. Stafford’s time to throw was noticeably quick.
Stafford had an average of 2.42 seconds time to throw against the Browns. That was his quickest since Week 6. To add to that, 56.8 percent of his throws came under 2.5 seconds. That was also his most since Week 6. The Rams need to stay in favorable down and distances in this game and the quick-passing game should help with that.
4. Be Opportunistic On Defense
The Rams may need to steal a possession or two and the best way to do that is with turnovers. On Sunday, the weather isn’t supposed to be great with a good chance of rain and wind speeds projected at 12mph. The defense needs to be opportunistic and try to get turnovers.
Jackson has thrown two red zone interceptions this season which is among the most in the NFL. The Ravens have kept several games close or lost them through untimely turnovers. It will be key for the Rams defense to keep this game close or within range by taking the ball away.
5. Win on Fourth Down and Win the Fourth Quarter
The Ravens are an aggressive team on fourth down and aren’t afraid to go for it when the analytics dictate for it. It’s important for the Rams to win in those situations that result in empty possessions for Baltimore.
On the flip side, the fourth quarter is typically important, but that’s even more so the case this week. Against the Steelers early in the season, the Ravens led 10-3 going into the final 15 minutes. They lost 17-10 with the Steelers scoring 14 unanswered. The Ravens led 21-7 against the Cardinals heading into the fourth quarter. With better defense, Arizona potentially has a chance to come back in a game they lost 31-24. Baltimore led the Browns 31-17 in the fourth quarter and gave up 16 unanswered points.
The Ravens rank 25th in fourth quarter points allowed, 24th in fourth quarter defense EPA per play, and 26th in fourth quarter defense success-rate. If this game is within striking distance in the fourth quarter, the Rams may have a chance to steal one on the road.