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How will the Los Angeles Rams match up against the Detroit Lions in Week 13?
Currently the Rams are 10-1 and Detroit is 4-7.
When the Rams Have the Ball
The Rams scored a season-best 54 points against the Kansas City Chiefs in the last game. They are rested and physically sound after an open date. Quarterback Jared Goff accounted for five touchdowns – four passing, one rushing – and continued to raise his status by engineering the fourth-quarter comeback for the victory.
He will be playing against a Lions’ defense that ranks 13th in the NFL, giving up 355.5 yards per game. According to coach Sean McVay, running back Todd Gurley suffered a minor ankle injury against the Chiefs. The reigning NFL offensive player of the year is expected to be at full strength against the Lions. Gurley leads the NFL with 17 touchdowns, but at the beginning of the week, he fell behind Ezekiel Elliott with the Dallas Cowboys for NFL rushing lead and behind Wil Lutz with the New Orleans Saints for the scoring lead.
A Lions secondary that includes cornerbacks Nevin Lawson and Darius Slay, and safeties Quandre Diggs and Glover Quinn could be overwhelmed by Rams receivers Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Josh Reynolds, and tight end Gerald Everett. Jarrad Davis, Detroit linebacker has a team-best 66 tackles and four sacks.
When Lions Have the Ball
A Ford Field two years ago, Matt Stafford, Lions’ quarterback, picked apart the Rams’ defense and passed for four touchdowns. A lot has changed for the Rams, but much has changed for the Lions too, especially in their receiver corps. Kenny Golladay has a team-best 52 catches, five for touchdowns. However, Marvin Jones has five touchdown catches, and was placed on the injured reserve this week. This could make it tough on Stafford, who has passed for 17 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions.
The Rams forces five turnovers against the Chiefs, with mitigated the fact that the defense gave up 546 yards and six touchdown passes. The Rams should be kept afloat by the return of cornerback Aqib Talib. The 11th-year pro was sidelined for eight games while recovering from surgery on his left ankle. Kerryon Johson, the leading rusher for the Lions, did not practice with the team this week due to a knee injury. It is presumable that LeGarrette Blount will carry the load in his place. The Rams could not control the run in Week 10 against the Seattle Seahawks nor against the Chiefs, however, this may be the game the Rams show improvement. Tackle Aaron Donald has a team-best 141/2 sacks. Defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh returns to where he began in his NFL career.
When They Kick
Johnny Hekker, Rams punter, may not be called upon often in this game, but he proved against the Chiefs that he is among the team’s most valuable players when he places three of four kicks inside the 20 and averaged 55.5 yards per kick. Greg Zuerlein has made 16 of 18 field-goal attempts. Kick returner Pharoh Cooper should be more comfortable in his second game since returning from an injury to the right ankle.
Lions kicker Matt Prater has made 20 or 23 field-goal attempts. Sam Martin averages 45 yards per punt.
Gary Klein’s Prediction
Rejuvenated after a week off, and with another NFC West title for the taking, the Rams will clinch the division and set their sights on claiming the home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
By Jeanette Smith
Los Angeles Times: How the Rams and Lions match up in Week 13
Image Courtesy of Thomas Hawk’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License