5 Reasons the Patriots will beat the St. Louis Rams
1. The Patriots have a winning record against NFC teams.
The Patriots have a 28-5 (.848) record against NFC teams since 2001 including 12 straight regular season victories. Since the Patriots have defeated the Chicago Bears 33-30 on Nov. 10, 2002, they have won 24 of their last 27 games against NFC competition, going a 24-3 (.889) over that period. The Patriots and Rams have split 10 meetings, including New England's 20-17 Super Bowl win on Feb. 3, 2002. The Patriots also won the most recent match up, 40-22 at St. Louis on Nov. 7, 2004. This is the first visit to Gillette Stadium for the Rams, who were 3-1 in the old Foxboro Stadium. Additionally The Patriots have a 23-4 record against teams making their first visit to Gillette Stadium (.852 winning percentage), and they sport an 11-1 record against NFC Teams making their first visit to Gillette Stadium (.917 winning percentage). Lastly the Patriots have seven consecutive victories the Patriots own against teams making their first visit to Gillette Stadium.
2. The Patriots can stop the run.
|RB Steven Jackson. Can he put up enough yardage to carry the Rams? (Getty)|
Steven Jackson is good but he is no LT. Jackson for the year is has rushed 121 times for 508 yards (4.2 yards per rush) and 4 touchdowns. Keep in mind a great deal of the was accomplished when the Rams played Dallas. Jackson rushed for 160 yards on 25 attempts and scored 4 touchdowns and had a long rush for 56 yards. If you take away the Dallas game he has 345 yards on 96 attempts for a 3.6 rush per carry average. Having scored only one rushing touchdown prior to the Dallas game would have Jackson averaging less than a touchdown per game. Jackson has been inconsistent in the past and if the Patriots can establish that they can and will stop the run early they will not only take Jackson out of the game physically but mentally as well. The Rams as a team average 100.3 yards per game rushing the ball good for 23rd place in the NFL in rushing.
3. The Patriots will be able to contain Marc Bulger.
Rams quarterback Marc Bulger has thrown 3 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions in 2008. He was benched earlier in the year in favor of Trent Green. When St. Louis made a coaching change he was reinstated back to being a starter. He is not a threat to run as the statistics prove. 6 rushes for 6 yards (1 yard per rush) in 2008. Bulger has been sacked 18 times. He has proven to be inconsistent having a good game then coming back the following week and having poor week. Before the Dallas game Bulger was struggling along with the rest of the Rams offense. In 2007 in 12 games Bulger threw 11 touchdowns but he also threw 15 interceptions and was sacked 37 times.
4. The Patriots defense will rise to the occasion.
The Patriots defense has played teams with a lot of fire power who rank statistically near the top of the NFL. Last week the Patriots played against Jay Cutler and the Broncos who were near the top in the NFL in passing. The Ram's are not the Broncos. The Patriots only allowed 7 points to a high-powered Bronco offense. The Rams offense ranks near the bottom of the NFL. They are ranked 31st in total offense (252 yards per game). The Rams average 16 points a game ranking them 29th on the NFL and 151 passing yards a game ranking them 30th in the league. Even with Jackson's monster performance against Dallas the Rams still are ranked 23rd in the league as mentioned about with 100.3 rushing yards per game. The Patriots secondary played much better last week and the improvement should continue. They have to watch Terry Holt the Rams all pro receiver. If the Patriots can, and they should be able to, get pressure on Bulger the defense should do enough to win the game even if they struggle offensively.
5. Patriots offense should be able to do just enough.
The Rams are ranked 30th in league in defense allowing 29.7 points per game and allowing their opponent 392.7 yards of total offense per game. (29th in the league). The Rams also allow 231.2 passing yards per game (25th in the NFL) and allow opponents to rush for 161.5 yards per game. (30th). The Patriots have injuries to their running backs and will play Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis who totaled 65 rushing yards on 13 carries (5.0 avg.) last week against Denver and scored his first career touchdown in just his second career NFL game. This may not be the 41-point explosion seen against the Broncos, however in winning AFC Offensive player of the week honors, Matt Cassel should have learned something in his good performance. If the Patriots can run the ball, Cassel should be able to find Moss long and Welker underneath. The Patriots should show continued offensive line improvement as Stephen Neal came back from injury last week. The Patriots surprisingly are 6th in the league in rushing averaging 135.8 yards a game. The Patriots may use the aggressiveness of the Rams against them and play a short passing game on purpose more than necessity to set up the run and passes deep downfield to Moss. Lastly the game will not be played inside where its warm and cozy and the Rams could take advantage of their speed. It will be cold, damp and rainy per the forecast on Sunday something the Rams play doesn't thrive in.
Advantage : New England.
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