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By: Ian St. Clair
To preview Sunday’s game, we go “behind enemy lines” to get a feel for the Rams and the state of the franchise.
The NFL gifted sports fans across the country with two bad football teams on Christmas.
Since both the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Rams have been eliminated from the NFL Playoffs, about the only thing to play for is pride.
DraftKings Sportsbook has the Broncos as slight -3-point favorites. Since Denver is on the road, this line is a bit surprising. As for the total, that number sits at 36.5. Despite the over hitting in back-to-back weeks, the under is the smart play on Christmas. The under is 11-3 in Broncos games this season.
To preview the game, we go behind enemy lines with Evan Craig from Turf Show Times to get a feel for the Rams, how the fans are doing with this tough season and how much the Super Bowl win eases the disappointment.
MHR: What is the story of the Rams in 2022?
Evan: Injuries and lack of complimentary football.
The offensive line has churned out a new combination every week since the season opener and will have a new center after Brian Allen was injured (again) in Monday’s loss to the Packers. LA didn’t address the O-line enough in the offseason and they’re paying for it severely this season. I know that shouldn’t be an excuse but how else do you explain the poor play from the running game and Matthew Stafford? He already struggles with consistency of course yet it’s difficult to do your job when the line doesn’t give you enough time to do it. I think Russell Wilson knows a thing or two about that this season.
Speaking of the running game that I had mentioned, LA just doesn’t have the personnel to make up for the poor line play. McVay gives up on the run game far too often without ever giving it a fair shake to see if anything develops. Against the Packers for instance, there were a few times in which he called for play action which only works if the ground game has been established. I understand the lack of a line makes life harder than expected but it’s putting unnecessary pressure on the quarterback. Stafford never had a reliable run game in Detroit and it followed him over to Los Angeles.
MHR: How are LA fans feeling about the 2022 season? And how much does the Super Bowl win counter what has happened this season?
Evan: Fans are basically ready for next season. They can’t be excited over the draft considering the team has no damn picks! Winning a title was the cure-all for them so while they aren’t happy with how 2022 has gone, they haven’t had much to complain about in this calendar year. That said, winning the Super Bowl counters enough of what has happened this season. Based on the pedigrees of Sean McVay and Les Snead, it’s expected this team will wash the stink off this year in the offseason in hopes that it’s only a bump in the road. Their Lombardi provides them a lot of leeway that other organizations have had following a title win of their own. It’ll all be in how they respond to the adversity from this season that’ll determine how quickly they get back to their winning ways.
MHR: What is the Rams’ defensive plan to stop the suddenly non-offensive Broncos offense? And how will Sean McVay look to have success against Denver’s defense?
Evan: So the Broncos score more than 16 points in back-to-back games and they fancy themselves a juggernaut? Good for them. I hope that positivity works for them. Maybe they’ll extend Hackett to keep those good vibes coming. (That was sarcasm by the way. I wouldn’t wish more of that joker upon any fanbase.) To limit the Broncos’ offense, the defense has to make them one-dimensional by stopping the run and forcing Wilson into being a pocket passer. He’s been wanting to run more and called his number on a crucial play in the Chiefs game. Luckily with their familiarity of him stemming from his Seahawks days, they have a strong chance to stop him.
As for how to attack Denver’s defense, McVay has to trust his players and establish a balanced attack. He has to call quick passing plays for Mayfield as a way of helping him get into a rhythm while making his life a little easier by relying on the run when needed. That is obviously easier said than done, so given McVay’s play calling this season, I doubt he has enough trust in his players to have success against such a strong defense.
MHR: What is your best bet for Sunday’s game at DraftKings Sportsbook? And what do you think of the Broncos being a slight favorite?
Evan: This might be a risky bet so please no one bet your own money on this but I say Cam Akers goes for over 50 rushing yards. He’s gotten at least 60 in two of his last three games when he’s been getting the touches. From what I’ve seen from the Broncos, their defense is elite but they’ve had issues at times against the run and that will show up here. I find it a little strange the Broncos are a slight favorite in this one even after the last Rams win at SoFi. Both teams are complete garbage so having either one as a favorite in any game is a disgrace to the football gods.
MHR: What are your expectations/predictions for Sunday’s game?
Evan: I predict a lot of dozing off while watching this real barnburner of a game. Honestly, I’m not expecting much from the Rams besides a respectable effort even if they don’t get the win. They’ve been trying their hardest even though making preparations for next season would be a better idea. I predict this will be a super low-scoring affair, even if the Broncos’ offense has been scoring points in bunches as of late (at least according to their standards). Give me the Rams in a close one that Denver blows at the end.
Rams 19 Broncos 16
Originally posted on Mile High Report