Rams (10-1) at Detroit (4-7)
When Rams have the ball
The Rams scored a season-best 54 points against the Kansas City Chiefs in their last game and they are rested and physically sound after an open date. Quarterback Jared Goff accounted for five touchdowns against the Chiefs — four passing, one rushing — and continued to elevate his status by engineering a fourth-quarter comeback for the victory. He will be operating against a Lions defense that ranks 13th in the NFL, giving up 355.5 yards per game. Running back Todd Gurley suffered what was described by coach Sean McVay as a minor ankle injury against the Chiefs. The reigning NFL offensive player of the year is expected to be at full strength against the Lions. Gurley leads the NFL with 17 touchdowns, but he entered the week having fallen behind the Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott for the NFL rushing lead and behind New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz for the scoring lead. A Lions secondary that includes cornerbacks Nevin Lawson and Darius Slay, and safeties Quandre Diggs and Glover Quin might be overwhelmed by Rams receivers Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds — and suddenly touchdown happy tight end Gerald Everett. Detroit linebacker Jarrad Davis has a team-best 66 tackles and four sacks.
When Lions have the ball
Two years ago at Ford Field, Lions quarterback Matt Stafford picked apart the Rams defense and passed for four touchdowns. Much has changed for the Rams, but also for the Lions, especially in their receiver corps. Kenny Golladay has a team-best 52 catches, five for touchdowns. But Marvin Jones, who has five touchdown catches, was placed on injured reserve this week. That could make it tough on Stafford, who has passed for 17 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions. The Rams forced five turnovers against the Chiefs, which mitigated the fact that the defense gave up 546 yards and six touchdown passes. The Rams should be buoyed by the return of cornerback Aqib Talib. The 11th-year pro was sidelined for eight games while recovering from left ankle surgery. Kerryon Johnson, the Lions’ leading rusher, did not practice this week because of a knee injury so LeGarrette Blount presumably will carry the load. The Rams could not control the run in Week 10 against the Seattle Seahawks nor against the Chiefs, but this might be a game that the Rams show improvement. Tackle Aaron Donald has a team-best 141/2 sacks. Defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh returns to where he began his NFL career.
When they kick
Rams punter Johnny Hekker might not be called upon much in this game, but he proved once again against the Chiefs that he is among the team’s most valuable players when he placed three of four kicks inside the 20 and averaged 55.5 yards per boot. Greg Zuerlein has made 16 of 18 field-goal attempts. Kick returner Pharoh Cooper should be more comfortable in his second game since returning from a right ankle injury. Lions kicker Matt Prater has made 20 of 23 field-goal attempts. Sam Martin averages 45 yards per punt.
Gary Klein’s prediction
Rejuvenated after a week off, and with another NFC West title for the taking, the Rams will clinch the division and set their sights on claiming home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
RAMS 43, LIONS 20