Week 13 Preview: Patriots vs. Rams

For this game, we will preview the Patriots facing the Los Angeles Rams in Week 13.

This week, the Los Angeles Rams travel to Gillette Stadium to face the Patriots in week 13 showdown. The Patriots (9-2) welcome the Rams (4-7) as heavy favorites in another clash between Bill Belichick and Jeff Fisher. In the last two times these two head coaches have met, Fisher has been outscored by a whopping 104-7 (via Rotoworld). As the Patriots are 13 points favorites in this game, it would not be crazy to see them blow-out Fisher and the Rams on Sunday in what seems to be a lop-sided game in many aspects of it. 

For the Patriots, they have proven to be a top offensive team yet again this season. They are sixth in the NFL with 386.2 yards of offense per game and also sixth in terms of points per game with 26.6.

Their passing offensive continues to be a staple of this team, especially since Tom Brady returned. He is fourth among quarterbacks with 314 yards per game, second in yards per attempt (8.60), first in passer rating (116.7) and fifth with a 68.4% completion percentage. On top of that, considering he has thrown 18 touchdowns (2.57 per game) and only one interception is incredible as well. He will be in a good spot against the Rams inconsistent pass defense to do some damage despite losing star tight end Rob Gronkowski to a season-ending back injury. 

The Patriots running attack has been revitalized this season. They rank as a team seventh in the NFL with 115.8 yards rushing per game. They are fourth in the NFL with 13 rushing touchdowns but rank 20th with 4.0 yards per carry and are tied for the seventh most fumbles (seven) as well. LeGarrette Blount has had a revitalized season in 2016. He has the fourth most rushing attempts (212), sixth most rushing yards (869) and is tied for the most rushing touchdowns (12) in the NFL. On top of that, he has improved his yards per carry to 4.1 and only has two fumbles all year as well. He has been heavily used in the Patriots offense while also being able to produce with that high volume as well. He is a big part of why the Patriots have been able to be a two-way team on offense this season, which is even more remarkable considering he had a major hip injury last year that cut his season short too.

On defense, the Patriots have had an up-and-down year. They are allowing the 14th fewest total yards on offense per game with 353.2 but are also third in the NFL with allowing on 17.9 points per game this season. For their passing defense, they are giving the 15th most passing yards per game (253.6), tied for 11th in passing touchdowns allowed (16) while being tied for fourth in interceptions (four). They have allowed the 15th fewest completion percentage (62.8%) and passer rating (91.7). In regards to sacks, they are tied for ninth fewest (22). So in regards to their passing offense, they are pretty much average with the league in most statistical categories.

For their run defense, they are allowing the 13th fewest rushing yards per game (99.5) but are tied for fifth in the NFL with only six touchdowns given up. They are 11th in the league with only a 4.0 yards per carry allowed mark but are tied for the league lead with 10 fumbles forced. The team is noticeably better against the run than they are against the pass, which is a good sign considering the strong front seven the Patriots have including Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, Dont'a Hightower and Elandon Roberts. Overall, their defense may be average to above-average, but it has proven capable of preventing big plays and points from going up on the board. 

For the Rams, they head into this game with a rookie quarterback at the helm in Jared Goff. Goff, the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, will be starting his third game ever. He is coming off an impressive 216 yard, three touchdown performance in week 12 against the Saints. Unfortunately, the Rams rank near the bottom in most offensive categories. They are dead last with only 295.1 yards per game and 15.5 points scored per game.

They are 29th in the league with 212 passing yards per game, tied for 26th with 12 passing touchdowns and fifth most in interceptions thrown (12). They have allowed 27 sacks this season, tied for 10th most in the league. They are also 24th in the league as a team with a 60.2% completion percentage and tied for 24th in yards per attempt (6.7). Clearly, the Rams are not an effective passing team.

Todd Gurley and the Rams aren't faring much better in the running aspect of their offense either. They are 29th in the league with 83.1 yards per game, tied for 25th in rushing touchdowns (five) and 31st in yards per carry (3.4). A lot of their issues can be blamed on their poor offensive line, which has been unable to create much for Gurley. Considering the Rams also barely utilized their passing offense as well, it gave opposing teams the chance to focus primarily on Gurley, limiting his effectiveness. Overall, this is one of the worst offenses in the league despite play-makers such as Gurley and Kenny Britt at their disposal. It could be a long day for the Rams and their offense against the Patriots defense.

On defense, the Rams are a bit better in that department. They are giving up the ninth fewest yards per game (339.8) and they are tied for 12th in points per game allowed (21.5). 

Their pass defense, they have given up the seventh fewest passing yards per game so far (228) but are tied for giving up the ninth most passing touchdowns (20). They are also tied for sixth fewest interceptions (six) and are tied with the Patriots with 22 sacks gathered. The Rams are giving up the 12th worst completion percentage (64.3%) and passer rating (93.9). Unfortunately, despite having play-makers such as All-Pro Aaron Donald, the Rams have struggled a bit in their pass defense.

For the Rams run defense, they are giving up the 13th most rushing yards per game (112.3) but are tied for the eighth fewest rushing touchdowns allowed (eight). They are giving up 4.3 yards per carry, which is tied for ninth worst in the NFL. They have also only forced one fumble, which is second worst in the league only to the Packers, who have none. So while the Rams are much better on defense overall than they are on offense, it still ranks pretty low down compared to the rest in the NFL.

Overall, we have a weak Rams offense against an average to above-average Patriots defense. And a strong Patriots offense against a below-average Rams defense. It does not look for Los Angeles as they travel to Foxboro, where Fisher's squads may struggle to score points against Belichick and the Patriots again. While the Rams do have a few solid pieces on their team, this appears to be a mismatch on several levels and LA fans could be in for a long day in what has the makings of a blow-out in favor of the Patriots.

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