Trenches Will Decide Rams VS Eagles

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Updated: December 8, 2017

The tried and true saying is that football games are won and lost in the trenches. For the most part its true save for the special occasions when say Aaron Rodgers can overcome his offensive line and do something miraculous. Sunday will be a living breathing example of that tried and true principle as the Rams host the Philadelphia Eagles at the Coliseum. Both teams have exhibited exemplary line play on both sides of the ball. Philadelphia has the best defensive line in football and the Rams have the best defensive lineman in all of football in Aaron Donald. The offensive line of the Rams has survived with stalwarts Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan bolstering the younger Rodger Saffold, Robert Haverstein, and Jamon Brown. Philly has somehow made it without future hall of fame tackle Jason Peters.

The war in the trenches will decide a great deal in this game as it will determine playoff seeding and possible home field advantage. The Eagles have an embarrassment of riches at defensive line. Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigen, Brandon Graham, and Vinny Curry are as deadly a foursome a team could ask for. They will give the Rams line a massive headache all day. Sean McVay will have to continue to rely heavy on screen passes. Todd Gurley will likely struggle given how good Philly has been against the run. Goff might have success throwing on the Eagles. Seattle found a way to move the ball around enough to neutralize the Eagles secondary. Robert Woods is still out and that means Kupp and the other receivers will have to find away to get separation against Malcolm Jenkins, Ronald Darby, and former Ram Rodney McCloud.

Defensively, the Rams have to find away to shut down the Eagles run game. The Rams defensive Achilles heel is that their run defense is weak. Jay Ajayi, LaGarrette Blount, and Corey Clement are all deadly runners that can beat teams down in a variety of ways. They can tire out the Rams defensive line by battering Blount up the middle and Ajayi and Clement can move like Barry Allen. MVP front runner Carson Wentz has had a similar upward trajectory as Jared Goff. Both have been able to spread the ball pretty much where they want to go. Alshon Jeffrey has stayed healthy all year and has come on in recent weeks. Nelson Aghalor is dangerous in the slot and like Sammy Watkins, Torrey Smith can beat anyone deep. The Eagles will have a banged up Zach Ertz who has been effective at moving the chains.

In order to neutralize the offense, Aaron Donald needs to ratchet up the pressure. They Seahawks defensive line found success in knocking Wentz down and preventing them from finding their rhythm. The Rams are suited to do that and while the Eagles offensive line has done well without Peters they can be beaten. If the Minnesota game taught the Rams anything its that once an offense is knocked out of rhythm its incredibly difficult to get it back. The Eagles likely took the same lessons the Rams did in their loss to the Vikings. They now know where they’re vulnerable and spent their fire laden practice week fixing it. Donald will be double teamed all day. Alec Ogletree will play but what kind of shape will he be in? If the Rams secondary can jam the Eagles’ receivers the weakened front seven should find some success.

It all starts down low in the trenches. The Rams lost that battle against Minnesota and have clearly bounced back from it. This is the biggest game the Rams have had since their 05 playoff loss to the Falcons and the biggest game they’ve had since returning to LA. A win here would give them the tie breaker over Philadelphia and New Orleans for a first round bye. Minnesota likely can’t be caught for home field but anything can happen. A win here would give them a leg up before next week’s NFC West showdown against Seattle. Should Seattle stumble in Jacksonville the Rams can clinch the division outright next week. The stakes are high these next two weeks and it appears that the Rams are truly ready for prime time.

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