We are really coming up quick on the end of this season. These games are all must wins because the cream will rise to the top. If your team loses, chances our their competition didn’t and you will miss the playoffs. Now they added a seventh seed and that should make for an even more interesting last four weeks.
The Patriots are a team who are thankful for this added seed. After a bad four game stretch in the middle of the season, we are seeing a new found swagger in this bunch. They went on to win four of their last five games and now they have a legit chance.
The Rams have quickly become the lead dawg in the race for the NFC West. Especially after that ugly loss for Seattle against the NY Giants. The Rams next two matchups are Patriots and Jets. They win these two and it’s game on against Seattle and Arizona to finish up the season. They better not get caught looking ahead to the divisional matchups, because we have seen the Patriots smoke somebody.
New England Patriots 6-6 @ LA Rams 8-4 (-5)
So, what did spur this little hot streak the Patriots have on their hands. It all starts with their defense. Still top ten in points per game, and over this stretch of five games have averaged just 17.6 points per. The whole “bend but don’t break” strategy is working extremely well for their personnel. They come in with a strict game plan that normally allows for the opposing teams to make the mistakes and they capitalize. They rarely ever get beat deep or on a bone headed mid coverage. They are so well coached and just intelligent on the football field. Things the box score won’t show you. But this offense is mind blowing to me. I mean Cam couldn’t even muster 70 passing yards last week and they still won because of the running game. It’s rare that they can string together long drives needed to March down the field. Plus if they are down, I have zero trust that he can lead this team back. We have seen him do it as recently as two weeks ago against Arizona but the playoffs will feature way tougher matchups. But I’m not totally a nonbeliever but this week will really swing me. Because the boys on the other side of the ball are not playing around, and they are here to win.
The Rams to me are such a tease at all times. It wasn’t that long ago when they had one of the best offenses in the league. They have the same players at most of the skill positions and even an upgrade at others. But that was the first time they put up 30 or more points in seven weeks. But I think we are seeing a change in the offense as well. Going back to the game against the Bucs, Woods and Kupp have just dominated targets for this team. And why the hell wouldn’t you? These two are easily the best playmakers on your team and it’s been proven in the past that this recipe works. Especially as they still try to figure out their running game. Akers appears to be the hot hand as of right now but Henderson popped off for a 38 yard touchdown that put the Cardinals in desperation mode. It allowed their defense to get hungry and force the pick six that put that the game out of reach. That defense probably doesn’t get talked about enough but they are easily top three in this league. They have the best players at defending the run (Aaron Donald) and the best at defending the pass (Jalen Ramsey). The attention they not receive allows the role players around them thrive. Don’t believe me? How about the fact that they rank first against the pass and third against the run? Second in total yards allowed and fifth in points against. And yes, they are better than New England in every single one of those categories. That front four is going to be a true test for this power run scheme in New England.
One thing I want people to keep in mind when evaluating this Patriots team is, don’t just crown them champions after one blowout win against a team who is slated for a top 5 pick. Belichick has always eaten rookie quarterbacks alive and this was no different. The offense was able to capitalize on the short field but the special teams was the real MVP. I don’t think this happens this week, and we are going to see if the Patriots are real contenders. Because the Rams are looking a dark horse team that can make noise in the playoffs. Rams -5