Rams vs. Patriots matchup: Jared Goff looking for another turnover-free performance
Breaking down how the Rams (8-4) and the New England Patriots (6-6) match up heading into Thursday’s game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, at 5:20 p.m. PT. (FOX, NFL Network)
When Rams have the ball: Jared Goff ended a streak of turnover-plagued performances in Sunday’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals, and coach Sean McVay is counting on his quarterback to continue to play efficiently. Goff has passed for 17 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions. This is Goff’s first game against the Patriots since they confused him in the Rams’ 13-3 defeat in Super Bowl LIII to end the 2018 season. This will be the first game against the Patriots for receiver Cooper Kupp, who missed the Super Bowl because of a knee injury. Kupp has a team-best 74 catches but has scored only two touchdowns. Receiver Robert Woods has 71 catches, five for touchdowns. Tight end Tyler Higbee reemerged against the Cardinals, catching a touchdown pass for the first time since catching three against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 20. Rookie running back Cam Akers carried a career-high 21 times for 72 yards against the Cardinals and has scored three touchdowns in the last three games. Darrell Henderson showed burst on a 38-yard touchdown run. Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore was the 2019 NFL defensive player of the year. His presence has afforded more opportunities for cornerback J.C. Jackson, who has seven interceptions.
When Patriots have the ball: Cam Newton is not the force he was in 2015 when he won the NFL most valuable player award, but the 6-foot-5, 245-pound quarterback remains a threat in an offense that ranks 22nd in the NFL, averaging 342.3 yards per game. Newton has rushed for 11 touchdowns and passed for five, with nine interceptions. With receiver Julian Edelman and running back Rex Burkhead sidelined because of knee injuries, the Patriots rely on other productive role players. Running back Damien Harris averages 5.1 yards a carry for an offense that also includes running backs Sony Michel and James White, who has 37 receptions. Receiver Jakobi Meyers has 38 catches, Damiere Byrd 37. The Rams’ defense, under first-year coordinator Brandon Staley, is giving up only 291.3 yards per game. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald has 11 of the Rams’ 36 sacks. Edge rusher Leonard Floyd has seven. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey has shadowed elite receivers in most of the last four games but could be deployed in multiple spots against the Patriots. Cornerback Troy Hill returned a fumble and an interception for touchdowns in the last two games. Defensive lineman Michael Brockers suffered a neck injury against Cardinals but has recovered and will play.
When they kick: McVay was feeling better about the Rams’ special teams until Nsimba Webster fumbled a punt and Matt Gay missed a field-goal attempt against the Cardinals. Now the Rams play a Patriots team that returned a punt and a blocked field-goal attempt for touchdowns against the Chargers. Gay is questionable because of a shoulder injury. Nick Folk has made 20 of 22 field-goal attempts for the Patriots.
By the numbers: Per-game averages except for sacks, turnovers. NFL rank in parentheses:
|Points scored||25.1 (17)||22.8 (23)|
|Points allowed||20.3 (5)||21.3 (7)|
|Pass offense||271.2 (6)||191.4 (30)|
|Rush offense||124.2 (9)||150.9 (3)|
|Pass defense||198.3 (1)||225.8 (14)|
|Rush defense||93.1 (3)||118.8 (18)|
|Sacks||36 (3T)||18 (26T)|
|Penalty yards||41.2 (4)||34.6 (1)|
|Turnover ratio||0 (17T)||+1 (15T)|
Gary Klein’s prediction: The Patriots under Bill Belichick are the most nimble operation in the NFL, remaining competitive regardless of personnel. But the Rams regained momentum against the Cardinals and should win at home.
RAMS 27, PATRIOTS 20
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