Rams pass offense vs. Patriots defense: Rookie Jared Goff made big strides in his second NFL start, completing 17 of 31 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns last week at New Orleans. He also demonstrated poise after losing a fumble and having a pass intercepted. Kenny Britt has a team-best 54 catches. Receiver Tavon Austin has not practiced because of a chest injury and is listed as doubtful. The Patriots are giving up 253.6 yards per game passing, which ranks 18th in the NFL. Lineman Trey Flowers has four sacks and three players have intercepted passes.
Rams run offense vs. Patriots run defense: Running back Todd Gurley continues to search for a breakout opportunity. Gurley has been dealing with a thigh injury, so a cold-weather game would not seem to be the antidote. The Rams’ offensive line also continues to be an issue for a team that ranks 29th in rushing. Last week, Rodger Saffold moved from left guard to left tackle to replace Greg Robinson and Saffold suffered a hand injury. The Patriots rank 13th in the NFL against the run, giving up 99.5 yards rushing per game. Devin McCourty and Logan Ryan are the leading tacklers for a unit that ranks 14th in total defense.
Patriots pass offense vs. Rams pass defense: Tom Brady sat out the first four games because of a NFL suspension but has shown absolutely no ill effects. Brady, 39, is completing 68% of his passes, 18 for touchdowns, with only one interception. Julian Edelman has a team-best 64 catches, two for touchdowns. The Patriots will be without tight end Rob Gronkowski, but Martellus Bennett has four touchdown catches. Rams tackle Aaron Donald has a team-best six sacks, and end Robert Quinn four for a defense that is giving up 227.5 yards passing per game. Cornerbacks E.J. Gaines and Trumaine Johnson struggled against the Saints.
Patriots run offense vs. Rams run defense: LeGarrette Blount has rushed for 869 yards and 12 touchdowns. The former Oregon player has averaged 4.1 yards per carry. James White backs up Blount, but he is more of a receiving threat with 43 catches, including four for touchdowns. Last week, Saints running back Mark Ingram ran through the Rams for 146 yards and a touchdown. He opened the second half with a 61-yard run. Middle linebacker Alec Ogletree and linebacker Mark Barron are the leading tacklers for a unit that is ranked 20th against the run, giving up 112.3 yards per game.
Special teams: Rams punter Johnny Hekker’s is averaging 46.7 yards per kick, but this could be the first time this season he will be asked to perform in cold conditions. He has put 35 of 67 kicks inside the 20-yard line. Kicker Greg Zuerlein has made 15 of 18 field-goal attempts. If Austin is sidelined, Pharoh Cooper will return punts. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has made 16 of 20 field-goal attempts. Ryan Allen has averaged 44.2 yards per kick and has put 15 of 46 inside the 20. Danny Amendola has averaged 8.2 yards per punt return, Cyrus Jones 22.3 per kickoff return.
Gary Klein’s pick: The Rams are coming off a humiliating defeat at New Orleans, where they were picked apart by Drew Brees. Now, they make another long trip to play against Tom Brady, another future Hall of Fame quarterback. And this time they won’t be inside a weather-free dome. The Patriots are not invincible at home — Buffalo defeated them, 16-0, on Oct. 6, although Brady didn’t play — but it’s expecting a lot for rookie quarterback Goff to solve a Bill Belichick defense in his third NFL start. Longtime Rams watchers will note that is exactly the kind of game that a Jeff Fisher-coached team will unexpectedly rise up and win.
Patriots 31, Rams 17
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