The St. Louis Rams look to rebound from a poor Monday Night Football showing in their week 3 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens coming to town. The Ravens are also coming off of a week 2 loss, succumbing to the Tennessee Titans.
The Rams hope to have better results after beating themselves with bad penalties and poorly executed plays against the New York Giants. They are still suffering from a few different injuries such as defensive end C.J. Ah You, running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, and wide receiver Danny Amendola. Steven Jackson is also listed as questionable, and is thought it be a game time decision. Despite the fnial score of the game, the Rams had some positive things to build on from the loss. Sam Bradford passed for a career high 331 yards. The defense, despite giving up 119 rushing yards, held the Giants to 3.1 yards per carry. They started the game rushing Eli Manning well, leaving him uncomfortable in the pocket. The longer the defense was on the field, the more things fell apart.
The Ravens fell to the Titans, who exposed the Raven secondary by passing for 358 yards. This was after coming off a huge opening day win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Don't let these numbers fool you, the Ravens are still a top 5 defense. The Ravens will be coming to the dome with a chip on their shoulders, having lost to a team they feel they probably shouldn't have lost to. An angry Ray Lewis and Co. is not good news for the Rams. They will have to be on their "A" game if they want to come away with a win.
As always, there are three things to watch for in this week's matchup.
Always keep an eye on Ed
While the Ravens' weakness maybe be their secondary, don't let that lead you to believe they are soft. As long as Ed Reed is playing center field, Sam Bradford will have to be very selective with his passes. Reed is a savvy veteran, who has seen just about everything any offense can throw at him. He is not afraid to step up and make a big hit, and if the ball finds his hands, he is very dangerous returning an interception. In their week 1 matchup with the Steelers, Ed Reed came down with two interceptions, bringing his total to 56 over his 10 year career.
It is imperitive that Bradford know where Reed is at all times. If not, the passing game could get really ugly. So far in the Spagnuolo era, the Rams have not shown a penchant to be able to come back when things don't go their way. If Reed gets his hands on an interception, it won't bode well for the Rams chances.
Continue the downfield attack
In their week 2 matchup, the Rams offense, in some ways, finally resembles what fans have been craving for, featuring several long passes, with the receptions by Danario Alexander being the most notable. Alexander finished the game with three receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown. Mike Sims-Walker finally made his presence felt as well, with six receptions for 92 yards.
Bradford completed passes of 68, 17, 26, 33, 18, 35, and 19 yards. Look for this to continue this week. Despite fielding a very strong defense, the secondary is their weakest spot. Also, is this the week Lance Kendricks makes his mark on the field? The rookie tight end only has two receptions in two games. Finally, look for the Rams to utilize slip screens to take advantage of an aggressive Ravens defense that likes to blitz.
Is this the week SJ makes his return?
So far this season, Steven Jackson only has two carries this season. As it's been noted, Jackson strained his groin on his first run of the season. He tested the groin prior to last week's game, and was able to do everything except the 40 yard dash. After another week of rest, will he be able to go against the Ravens? He is listed as questionable on the Rams injury report, and looks to be a game time decision once again.
The Rams offense is totally different without Jackson in the backfield. While Cadillac Williams has done an admirable job as the number 2 running back, and starter in week 2, He simply cannot do the things that Jackson does. With Jackson in the backfield, Bradford's job gets that much easier because opposing defenses have more respect for the run. Jackson is an excellent receiver out of the backfield as well. He runs with more power than Williams, and has more bursst. Although Sam Bradford is the face of the franchise, this team still belongs to SJ39. Aso he goes, so do the Rams.
The Ravens are stout run defenders. The only way the Rams can hope to establish any kind of run game is if Steven Jackson plays.
If Jackson plays, I think the Rams can win this game. Unfortunately, I don't think he plays, and if he does, not much. Ravens win: 24-17