Patriots vs. Rams: 3 keys to the game, fun facts, prediction

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The Patriots will take on the Rams Thursday in Los Angeles in not only their biggest game of the year, but quite possibly one of their biggest regular-season games in quite some time.

New England is 6-6 and hanging on to staying in the playoff mix. A loss would be a huge hit to its chances, while a win would increase its chances to 25 percent, according to The New York Times.

The Rams enter the game at 8-4, tied for the lead in the NFC West. Like the Patriots, they are playing well of late — winning three of their last four games. Meanwhile, the Patriots have won four out of their last five, including a 45-0 win over the Chargers on Sunday.

The team remained on the West Coast after the game, getting all its work done on UCLA’s campus.

Patriots vs. Rams
Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020
Rams -5, over/under 45.5
8:15, FOX/NFL Network

3 keys to the game

Stay committed to the run

The Rams may have one of the most underrated defenses in the league, as it may not seem like it, but it is second overall and fifth in points allowed. The unit is ranked first against the pass and third against the run. The statistics show the more the Patriots run the ball, the better their chances are of winning. In wins, the Patriots have ran the ball an average of 38.8 times, compared to 27.5 times in losses. The offense needs to focus on the running game not only with Damien Harris, but Cam Newton as well. Controlling the clock and keeping the Rams offense off the field would go a long way when it comes to pulling off an upset.

Continue momentum on defense/force turnovers

The Patriots defense is playing its best of the season and part of that has been finally generating a pass rush, which has taken some pressure off of the secondary. The Rams have been susceptible to turning the ball over, as they have at least one turnover in every game this season and even more in their losses. They have averaged just over one turnover a game in wins, compared to 2.75 in losses. Putting pressure on Jared Goff and forcing some bad throws could lead to multiple turnovers and that could be the difference in the game.

Keep an eye on everyone

Unlike some teams the Patriots have played recently, the Rams have a lot of playmakers on offense. Bill Belichick and Co. can’t just take away one player like it has been known to do over the years. The Rams have three players with at least 350 yards on the ground and then five players with at least 340 yards receiving. Cooper Kupp is having the best year, as he has 74 catches for 836 yards and two touchdowns. He did not play in the Super Bowl a few years ago, so the Patriots have not seen first-hand how good of a player he really is.

Fun Facts

1. The Patriots have won nine straight games on three days rest, the longest active streak in the NFL.

2. Beginning in 2014, the Patriots have only been underdogs in 11 games. They have covered eight of those games and have won straight up in seven of them, including three straight.

3. Newton has scored 11 rushing touchdowns in 2020. With one more rushing touchdown, he will tie former Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan for the team record for most rushing touchdowns in a season by a QB.

4. Newton has thrown for less than 85 yards in back-to-back games and won. He’s become the first QB in the league to do that since Akili Smith in 2000.

5. Despite missing three games, Harris is on pace for 926 yards this season. He has three 100-yard games, but hasn’t had one since Week 10 against the Ravens.

Prediction

Patriots 20, Rams 17

This was the final score the last times the two teams met in Super Bowl XXXVI and we see a similar, low-scoring game playing out again. The Patriots once again may not be the best team on paper, but we see the coaching advantage going their way again and we would not be surprised to see Goff throw an interception or two. Also, spending the last few days together on the UCLA’s campus served as team-bonding experience and while it may be a minor thing, it could be a rallying point for the team.