Rams vs. Detroit Lions: How they match up
Rams pass offense vs. Lions pass defense: The Rams are ranked 30th in the NFL in passing offense, averaging only 202.4 yards per game. But they are facing a defense that has given up a league-high 14 touchdown passes. Case Keenum has passed for four touchdowns with five interceptions. Tavon Austin caught a season-best seven passes against Buffalo. Kenny Britt remains the go-to receiver. Rookie Pharoh Cooper returned last week and is looking for his first catch. Cornerback Darius Slay and safety Glover Quin have interceptions for the Lions.
Rams run offense vs. Lions run defense: Todd Gurley rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions last season. He can anticipate the usual loaded-box scheme, something Buffalo shied from last week. Austin also was incorporated into the rushing game and looked good from the I-formation and on fly sweeps. The Lions are giving up 114.8 yards rushing per game, which ranks 22nd. But they are the only team that has not surrendered a rushing touchdown. Tackle Haloti Ngata suffered a shoulder injury last week and is expected to be sidelined a few weeks.
Lions pass offense vs. Rams pass defense: The Rams will be without cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who suffered an ankle injury against Buffalo. Troy Hill will return to the lineup and start opposite corner E.J. Gaines. The Rams pass rush will be dictated by whether Robert Quinn, William Hayes and Michael Brockers return from injury. The Lions’ Matthew Stafford probably has had his best start to a season, completing 68% of his passes, 10 for touchdowns, with only four interceptions. Receiver Calvin Johnson is retired but Marvin Jones has helped fill the void and leads the NFL with 519 yards receiving.
Lions run offense vs. Rams run defense: The Bills’ LeSean McCoy rushed for 150 yards against the Rams and their depleted defensive line last week. Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree said the defense struggled to line up and fill gaps. The Rams are giving up 122.2 yards rushing, which ranks 28th. The Rams might catch a break against a Lions team that has suffered a string of injuries by running backs. Theo Riddick, who is also an excellent receiver, is sidelined because of an ankle injury. The Lions could turn to receiver Golden Tate, Dwayne Washington or recently acquired Justin Forsett.
Special teams: Rams kickoff returner Benny Cunningham is back after sitting out last week because of a hamstring injury. Greg Zuerlein has made all nine of his field-goal attempts and all seven extra points. Johnny Hekker averages 45.2 yards per punt and has put 16 of 29 inside the 20-yard line. The Rams failed to execute a fake-punt run for a first down against Buffalo. The Lions’ Andre Roberts averages 20.4 yards per kickoff return and 19.7 per punt return. He took one punt 85 yards for a score. Detroit’s Matt Prater has made eight of nine field-goal attempts. Punter Sam Martin averages 50.1 yards a kick and has put nine of 19 inside the 20.
Gary Klein’s pick: This is the first stop for the Rams on a trip that will continue to London. Will that be a distraction? The Rams could get some defensive linemen back for this game but it remains to be seen how effective they would be after a plane ride nearly across the country. The Lions are not a power, but they do have some momentum after defeating previously unbeaten Philadelphia last week, giving Coach Jim Caldwell some breathing room. They also have the strong-armed Stafford going against a Rams secondary that will be without play-making cornerback Johnson.
Lions 24, Rams 22.
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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