October 26, 2020
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Story tips, concerns, questions?

In years past the Rams offensive line has been the cause for concern. So far this season, they have tremendously protected Goff and currently rank seventh in the league, having only allowed seven total sacks. (Photo by Los Angeles Rams).


By Matt Barrero, Assistant Sports Editor

THIS WEEK –

The Los Angeles Rams (4-1) made it a clean sweep of the NFC East last weekend after defeating the Washington Football Team 30-10 in our nation’s capital. They are off to their best start through Week 5 since they went undefeated in the same time frame back in 2018. Their opponent this week, Bay Area rival San Francisco 49ers (2-3). The 49ers have been riddled with injuries to some of their top performers this season but gained some back last week like quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, running back Raheem Mostert and wide receiver Deebo Samuel. It actually had a negative effect overall, as San Francisco was obliterated at home to the Miami Dolphins 43-17.

HISTORY –

The in-division rivals will meet for the first time this season after the 49ers took care of business last year defeating the Rams in both contests. The two teams have exchanged season sweeps the last two seasons (Rams in 2018 and the 49ers in 2019). This will be the 142nd meeting of the two historic franchises dating back as far as October of 1950. The Rams currently lead the series 71-67-3 despite being outscored overall, 3,172-3,019.

PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR –

QB Jared Goff

Goff is back on the list because of his quiet success on the road this season. In the three games on the road this season, Goff has already thrown for a total of almost 900 yards, seven touchdowns and only two interceptions with an average 70% passing completion per game. Compare that to his at-home stats where he has only thrown one touchdown pass and under 300 yards in both contests. In the three games he has played at Levi’s Stadium, Goff has a 2-1 record and has thrown for 817 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception with a completion rate of 68%. The Jared Goff on the road has been the difference in why the Rams are 4-1. Look for Goff to continue his hot road play in an intense nationally televised game Sunday night.

DT Aaron Donald

The back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year is showing exactly why he is the baddest man in football. Donald currently leads the league with 7.5 sacks and is tied for fourth in forced fumbles. Last week alone, he sacked both Washington quarterbacks a total of four times adding to his already impressive stat line during the month of October which now stands at 25 games played, with 23.5 sacks, 38 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles. In addition to October success, Donald will be facing a team he has had the most success against. There is no team Donald has been better against in his career than the 49ers. In the 11 games he has faced San Francisco, Donald has 11.5 sacks, a total of 43 tackles, with 14 of those going for a loss and in the last four games he has faced the 49ers, Donald has 8.5 sacks. San Francisco’s offensive line just allowed an inferior Dolphins pass rush to sack their quarterbacks five total times. Donald is playing hot in his favorite month, against his favorite opponent and under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football. Look for the beast to shine.

Rams Secondary

To the average NFL fan, names like John Johnson III, Troy Hill, Taylor Rapp and Darious Williams don’t carry much significance. For Rams fans, this quartet of talent has quieted the preseason critics who said, “Defensively, in between Donald and Jalen Ramsey, there’s enough issues to limit L.A. to .500.” While it is still early, the Rams look to be better than just a .500 team. Johnson III leads the team in total tackles (33), with Hill just five behind (28). Rapp’s ability to play both safety and linebacker and along with Williams’ quick first step and interception threat have shown just how talented this group truly is. Even with Ramsey, who some would say is underperforming, the Rams secondary continues to sparkle. Sunday night will be no different.

GAME CHANGERS –

Mob Squad Returning to Its Roots

They say the best defense is a good offense. That may be true for some, but this Rams team has the best of both worlds. With a defensive front led by Donald, the secondary has been just as dominant. The Rams as a whole have held their opponents passing to under seven yards per attempt, have only allowed an average of 197.8 yards per game and have six takeaways through five games. The weak point of this stellar defense is their inability to stop the run. The Rams currently rank 10th in the league giving up an average of 106 yards per game to opponents on the run. After returning from a knee injury last week, 49ers running back Raheem Mostert ran for 90 yards showing no signs of fatigue. With the uncertainty of the 49ers passing game against an already good Rams defense the difference will be the run game. The “Mob Squad” will be flying all over the field and will look to improve their run stoppage.

Run and Gun Offense, Minus the Run

While the 49ers run offense has performed well, the Rams on the other hand still need some work. The three-headed monster in Darrell Henderson Jr., Malcolm Brown and rookie Cam Akers, are only averaging 4.1 yards per rush attempt. Both teams are middle of the pack run defenses and this is where the call to Goff and the passing game will come in hand. The Rams have the perfect balance when it comes to their pass game and it showed in last week’s victory with Goff targeting five different receivers at least four times each. This is especially good news after the 49ers allowed Dolphins 37-year-old quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw for 350 passing yards and three touchdowns.

FUN FACTS –

Not Superstitious, Just Really Good

Some see “Eggshell,” others will say it’s “Off-White,” the Rams call it “Bone.” Despite the quirky title and need for approval prior to the season starting, Los Angeles has worn their “Bone” uniforms three times this season vs the Dallas Cowboys (Week 1), Philadelphia Eagles (Week 2) and Washington Football Team (Week 5). In those three games, the Rams are undefeated and are outscoring their opponents 87-46. Additionally, they have only allowed their opponents to score a combined 10 points in the entire second half. Say what you will about the look but it’s working wonders so far.

Kickoff is scheduled for 5:20 p.m. PST for Sunday Night Football on NBC (10/18/20)

GET ON THE HORN (G.O.T.H.) PREDICTION –

RAMS 35, 49ERS 28

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