The New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams will be battling it out at 1:00 p.m. ET in London, England at the venerable Wembley Stadium for the yearly NFL game in London. The Rams are just one game back of the 4-3 Patriots, and both teams have surprisingly close records at this stage of the game. The Patriots are dealing with some crippling injuries in an already weak secondary, and both Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Bolden will also be out for this game.
The game will be played out in front of an estimated crowd of 80,000 people, but you can watch it from home on CBS or on WBZ-TV Channel 4 if you live in Boston. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will be calling the game for CBS. You can also listen to the New England Patriots going for their fifth victory of the season on 98.5 FM The Sports Hub, with commentary from Gil Santos and former QB Scott Zolak. Ross Tucker and Larry Kahn will be calling the game on Sports USA for those of you who are not in the area.
Patriots Pass Offense vs. Rams Pass Defense
The strength of the St. Louis Rams defense is on the defensive line and at the cornerback position, with stalwarts such as Robert Quinn, Chris Long, and Cortland Finnegan. Much has been made of the battle between stars Wes Welker and Finnegan, and I disagree with the people who think Finnegan is going to negate Welker. That almost never happens when an elite slot receiver plays, no matter the competition. Welker is the best receiver in the league at getting open with his precise route-running and quickness, and Tom Brady is the quarterback best suited to giving him the ball.
I’m not saying that Welker is going to have a big day; far from it. Finnegan is the best nickel corner that this league has to offer, and he’s probably one of just a few corners who can completely shut down Welk. I’m just saying that the Pats star receiver is still going to get a handful of catches and make life difficult for the Rams.
The safety position for St. Louis has been largely inconsistent, even though they have one of my favorite underrated players in Quintin Mikell. He’s been somewhat of a bust free agent signing for the Rams after a disappointing season last year in which he looked nothing like the consistent star that he was for several years while with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Rams safeties take bad angles, and I really don’t like their linebackers in coverage. I have a feeling that Rob Gronkowski is going to have a big day today and get another signature spike.
As for Brandon Lloyd, he’ll be the best receiver for the Patriots in this game. Janoris Jenkins is going to be a great corner some day, but he has had two terrible outings against better competition after starting the season by shutting down nearly everyone in sight. I can see Lloyd burning this defense.
Quinn and Long worry me as pass rushers, as they form one of the best DE duos in the league. Long had a dud of a game last week, but Quinn more than picked up the pace in a huge day. Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder will need to be at their best, and I can see Quinn getting in Brady’s face several times against Solder. As for Vollmer, I’m confident in his ability to continue to shut down solid opponents.
Patriots Run Offense vs. Rams Run Defense
The New England Patriots have one of the deepest running back groups in the NFL, and they won’t be missing Brandon Bolden despite his quality impact as a rookie. Stevan Ridley could very well threaten for 100 rushing yards, because the Rams defensive backs are poor in run defense. James Laurinaitis is a great middle linebacker, but their two outside linebackers are terrible. I mean, Rocky McIntosh has no business starting in this league.
Shane Vereen is going to be especially dangerous for the Rams, because they do struggle against running backs who are explosive on the edges. I could see Vereen burning them a couple of times, but there will be some runs for negative yardage with the way that front four plays. Long is a great pass rusher but is a non-factor against the run, so I like the Patriots chances when running it towards his side.
Continue Reading to read the breakdown of the New England Patriots defense against the St. Louis Rams offense, as well as my prediction.
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