The Los Angeles Rams 2023 season comes to a fork in the road on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Things were looking up and ahead of schedule following a Week 1 win against the Seattle Seahawks. Now, following back-to-back losses, including a very winnable game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, things are beginning to look much different.
It can be argued that the Rams season was at a turning point last week with the chance to go 2-1 and get a win against a team many thought to be a serious playoff contender on the road. With the Colts this week, the Rams would have had a chance to begin the season 3-1.
Now, that picture has changed significantly. The Colts are a team that looks ahead of schedule and sit at 2-1. Meanwhile, a Rams loss and they would move to 1-3 with a game against the Philadelphia Eagles on the horizon in Week 5. The season could begin to snowball very quickly.
It’s only Week 4 against an AFC opponent, but this is almost a must-win or the Rams will possibly be right where many thought they would be before the season — fighting for the number one pick.
This is a Rams team that is starting at a fork in the road. Turn right and the season remains in the balance. A left turn however and it could derail the season. The Rams season is at a critical point in Week 4 and will need to take care of business.
Rams Offense vs. Colts Defense
This is a game that will be won in the trenches. Kwity Paye has a sack in each of the first three games of the season. Samson Ebukam also ranks 17th in pass-rush win-rate. The Colts as a team rank in the top-10 in both pass-rush win-rate and run-stop win-rate. It’s very possible that the Rams offense has moments where they struggle to move the ball.
Despite the Colts having a strong defensive line, McVay will need to keep a balanced offensive attack. If the offense gets one-dimensional as it has the last two weeks, this is a Colts pass-rush that can take advantage.
Matchup to Watch: Rams Tackles vs. Colts Edge Rushers
The Rams could enter the game with their fist different offensive line combination this season. Alaric Jackson is a game-time decision after a hamstring injury last week. Even if he plays, he likely won’t be 100 percent. Again, the Colts edge rushers are playing at a high-level this season. How effective the Rams are at blocking them could determine this game.
Rams Defense vs. Colts Offense
The Colts will be without left tackle Bernhard Raimann and center Ryan Kelly. Players like Aaron Donald and Kobie Turner on the interior need to be able to take advantage of that matchup. The same can be said about Byron Young and Michael Hoecht on the edge.
Even though the Colts will be without two starting offensive linemen, some of that is mitigated by how good of an athlete Anthony Richardson is at quarterback. The rookie has the ability to make some plays with his legs. How the Rams approach him, whether it’s a spy with Ernest Jones or using the edges to contain him in the pocket will play a role in this game.
Matchup to Watch: Byron Young vs. Blake Freeland
It will be two rookies going up against each other on Sunday as Young likely lines up against Freeland. Freeland was one of the more athletically gifted tackles in the draft, but poor footwork saw him slide as he didn’t perform well at the Senior Bowl. Freeland allowed seven pressures in the preseason and hasn’t played since. Meanwhile, Young has been getting better every week. The Rams rookie edge defender has a chance to wreak havoc on Sunday. Don’t be surprised if the Rams also try to line up Donald across from Freeland.
Again, the Rams season is at a turning point on Sunday against the Colts. However, Sean McVay is 2-0 against the Colts which included a Matthew Stafford fourth quarter comeback in 2021. This is a rookie coach and rookie quarterback going up against McVay and Donald.
This is going to be a close, defensive game and if the Rams make enough mistakes like they did last week, they could once again end with a loss. At the end of the day, I do see the Rams coming away with a three-point win on the road as they hopefully get back to the basics and what worked in Week 1.
Prediction: Rams 20, Colts 17