A re-match of the dullest Superbowl in recent history kicks off Week 14 of the 2020 season. That 13-3 win for the Patriots was the last time these two played and the young buck was thoroughly out-coached by the master. It was actually a mildly interesting match, as Belichick confounded Goff for the whole game. Will he get the better of him again tonight? Mebbe.
(6-6) Patriots +4.5 @ Rams (8-4):43
It’s a slight miracle the Pats have reached week 12 at 6-6. They’re terrible to watch. They have no passing game, they’re the second slowest team in the league and have won through special teams and defense in recent weeks.
Cam Newton has 11 rushing TDs this year, and an amazing 5 passing TDs. FIVE. He’s a Quarterback, with 5 passing TDs. 2,000 yards, and three games with fewer than 100 passing yards this season. But hell, if it works it works, Bill won’t give a crap. Can’t throw interceptions if you don’t throw… Unless you play the Cardinals and you’re picked off twice in 18 attempts… They still somehow won that game two weeks ago.
The running game is where they’re living at the moment, Damien Harris is doing a good job between the 20s, Cam get’s a lot of the 5 yard work, James White seems to have filled the Red Burkhead redzone role, and Sony Michel returned with a few carries in their rout last week. As always it makes it an annoying conundrum to figure out. From what I can gather, it’s Harris 20-20, then a mix of White targets/Cam rushes when it gets close. Michel could well come in to vulture some short yardage work though.
The passing game is barely worth talking about NKeal Harry just hasn’t come on, although he leads the team in red-zone targets, Damiere Byrd is replacement level in most teams, but gets receptions on a weekly basis, and special teamer Gunnar Olszewski led the team in yards last week with 38. Jakobi Meyers has led the team in targets at times and has at least 6 targets in 6 of their last 7 games, so I guess he’s the man Cam looks for. Vaguely. The tight ends have all been injured, Ryan Izzo is now on IR, so Keene migjt get a target or two?
Defensively they’re still ranked badly on DVOA but they’ve been a lot better since Stephon Gilmore returned to health and I’m sure they’ll cook something up tonight. The special teams won the game for them against the Chargers last week, they may have some impact tonight, but the coaching mis-match last week was extreme, this should be closer.
The Rams will probably look to the run game as well, they’re the best running offense in the league according to DVOA, it’s great for them, but a ballache for us as they use 3 or 4 guys back there. Recently it’s looked like Cam Akers is getting more of the ball, he had 63% of the RB snaps last week, a big jump from below 30% in previous weeks, and he’s done fairly well with it scoring in each of their last three games. Darrell Henderson had his time and it looks like he’s the backup there now, while Malcolm Brown is generally the third down back as the best blocker of the three. He pops up with 2 TD games every now and then.
Jared Goff is a decent QB when he’s not under pressure which should be the case here, his offensive line has suffered some injuries, but the Patriots sack leader only has 3.5 sacks this season so Goff should be kept clean at least. He’s decent on TNF as well with 321 yards per game, 9 TDs and a 110+ passer rating in his 4 Thursday starts. He only threw 1 TD last week when completing 37 of 47 for his highest percentage of the season.
Kupp and Woods are proving as good as ever, Woods has had at least 80 yards in 4 out of 5 and 5 receptions in each of them, Kupp is a little more hit and miss, but put up big numbers in their last prime-time game against the Buccs and has a good record on Thursdays. I’d guess that Woods gets more of Gilmore, he’s mor eof the outside guy in general. They’re the main two then you’re looking at Josh Reynolds who has at least 6 targets in 5 of the last 6 and rookie Van Jefferson who has been a little more involved in recent weeks.
The tight ends are interchangable, Everett has 26 targets over the last 5 weeks, Higbee has 22. Neither have been prolific in the redzone, Everett with 1 score all season and Higbee has scored in two games. Basically take your pick, but don’t be surprised if the other one does it all. Probably best to avoid both, Pats have only allowed 1 TD to the position this year.
Defensively they’re rather good. Stars and studs is working well for them, Aaron Donald is arguably the best player in the league, it’s between him and TJ Watt for DPOY this year, Donald currently sits second with 11 sacks, while Jalen Ramsey is a one of the few shut down corners. So he’ll erase er… the mighty Meyers? While the other guys around them have stepped up, Troy Hill had a pick 6 last week.
On paper it looks like a defensive battle. Both teams will probably favour the run game (however saying that, last time I thought that against the Bucs, Goff/Kupp/Woods had a great game) and keep it quite slow. Few plays, control the ball etc…
Weirdly the Pats have had more time to prep for this one as they stayed at UCLA after playing the Chargers in this stadium last week while the Rams were in Arizona.
I don’t mind James White going over his 2.5 reception line, Aaron Donald will get pressure up the middle so White will be available on dump offs.
The Rams should win, they’re the much more talented roster, they’re good against the run and there’s not a huge gap in coaching.
I’ve got to lean under the total, but it’s low so I wouldn’t be taking it.
- James White o2.5 receptions – 1.67 (Skybet)
- Both teams to score a rushing TD – 1.57 (Skybet)
- Cam Akers over 99 scrimmage yards – 9/2 (WillHill)
Don’t mind the Sportinglife request a bet on Skybet either actually. The INTs obviously the riskiest bit