The Los Angeles Rams (6-4) are riding a nice 17-7 victory over the Chicago Bears (4-6) last Sunday. This week, they are heading into a matchup against a powerhouse Baltimore Ravens (8-2) offense. The Ravens beat the Houston Texans 41-7 last week and are coming to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Rams will have their hands full with Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, whose agility and passing ability are skills that can scare even a top-tier defense. The Ravens are on a roll with six consecutive wins. They scored at least 30 points in their last four games against the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and the Texans. They are favored to beat the Rams at home by 3.5 points.
The Rams have an answer with the league’s fifth-ranked rush defense that also ranks second in yards per carry allowed. While the Ravens offense is a threat, the Rams must sustain an effective offensive line to pull out a victory. Protecting Jared Goff and feeding running backs Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown like they did against the Bears is key for this victory. This will avoid leaning on the passing game against a solid Ravens secondary.
Baltimore’s offense is led by Jackson not only in passing but in rushing yards. He is second in rushing touchdowns next to running back Mark Ingram. Jackson also has 19 passing touchdowns and has already tripled the amount of touchdown completions he had in 2018. He has 185 passes on 279 attempts for 2,258 yards. He also has six rushing touchdowns with 788 yards. That means Jackson has more rushing yards than Gurley.
Week 11 Observations
Against the Texans, Jackson had 17 completions on 24 attempts for 222 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. He was sacked once, but managed to earn 86 rushing yards on nine carries. Ingram had 13 carries for 48 yards and no touchdowns, but he did have two touchdown receptions. Running back Gus Edwards led in rushing against Houston with eight carries for 112 yards and one touchdown. Tight end Mark Andrews leads the team in receiving with 48 catches for 598 yards and six touchdowns. One of those touchdowns came from an 18-yard pass late in the first half.
Against the Bears, the Rams offense did not perform well initially. Gurley was stripped for a fumble recovery on their first play of the game. The Rams defense stepped up and Chicago gave the Rams a pair of gifts with two failed field goal attempts in the first quarter. Los Angeles gave up an interception in between both kick attempts. After trading punts and an interception by Rams cornerback Troy Hill, Rams receiver Cooper Kupp caught a 51-yard bomb to the 1-yard line. Gurley ran it in for a 1-yard score making it 10-0. BoBrown added the second touchdown of the game on a 5-yard run late in the fourth quarter, sealing the win for the Rams.
Rams Stats and Positional Changes
Goff has 225 passes on 373 attempts for 2,783 yards and 11 touchdowns. His protection from the offensive line was good against the Bears defensive front, especially considering there were two rookies and a recent acquisition starting at both guard positions and right tackle. Rookie right tackle Bobby Evans held his own against Bears star pass rusher Khalil Mack. Left guard Austin Blythe was moved to center. Austin Corbett, acquired recently from the Cleveland Browns, is now at left guard and rookie David Edwards is now at right guard. All the above changes are a result of recent season-ending knee injuries to both center Brian Allen and left guard Joseph Noteboom. Rob Havenstein is also dealing with a knee injury that will sideline him for a few weeks.
Gurley leads the Rams in rushing with 129 carries for 525 yards and seven touchdowns. Gurley also has 18 receptions for 117 yards and one touchdown. Wide receiver Kupp still leads the receiving corps with 61 catches for 845 yards and five touchdowns. Wideout Brandin Cooks is expected to return against the Ravens after finishing concussion protocol suffered in Week 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals. It is unknown if receiver Robert Woods will play after being inactive last week to handle a personal issue.
Josh Reynolds, Mike Thomas and Gerald Everett are happy to step up should Woods sit out for a second consecutive week. Reynolds led in receiving against the Bears with 3 catches for 55 yards. Everett had a 20-yard reception and Thomas had one catch for 9 yards.
How Will the Rams Handle Monday Night?
Former Ram Marcus Peters could potentially bring a wealth of Rams defensive knowledge to the Ravens. Rams head coach Sean McVay did not elaborate on how they would change the defensive scheme for this matchup. Rams safety and and former Raven Eric Weddle is tight-lipped about the Ravens defensive setup, respecting his former team. Rams linebacker Kenny Young was also acquired from Baltimore in the recent trade with Peters. Since the Rams acquired Jalen Ramsey and traded Peters to the Ravens, both defenses have improved dramatically. Peters fits well into Baltimore’s scheme and Ramsey has been solid on man-to-man coverage. The Rams are set in the defensive backfield to handle the Ravens receivers, but they will likely rely heavily on their ground game as receivers and their tight end Andrews.
Containing Jackson will be the biggest challenge as he can break away on big elusive runs, but defensive tackle Aaron Donald will find a way to get in the backfield and stuff the run along with fellow linemen Michael Brockers and Sebastian Joseph-Day. Donald has eight sacks and linebacker Clay Matthews has seven. Linebacker Dante Fowler, did not have a strong showing last week, but still has 6.5 sacks. Linebacker Cory Littleton still leads the Rams in tackles followed by Weddle and safety Taylor Rapp.
The Ravens currently rank sixth in the league in passing yards allowed. This may serve Kupp, Cooks and Everett well, especially since the Ravens struggle on wrapping up after the catch. Baltimore allows 4.7 yards after the catch per reception this season. Kupp and Everett are strong with breaking and evading tackles.
The Rams’ last meeting with the Ravens was back in 2015 when St. Louis lost 16-13. Baltimore leads the series in wins 4-2, but expect more scoring than the last six matchups. The key for the Rams will be continued improvement on the offensive line. They will be challenged with Ravens linebackers Matthew Judon and Patrick Onwuasor. Goff will need to continue to make good reads on the defense and trust his line to give him time to make good throws. The biggest recent change on the Rams offense is feeding Gurley. He must continue to run the ball like he did against the Bears to add the balanced attack.
Kickoff is Monday at 5:15 p.m. PST on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.