Week 14: Vengeance Against The Pats

Week 14
New England Patriots Head Coach And General Manager Bill Belichick. Photo Credit: Alexander Jonesi | Under Creative Commons License

Week 14: Vengeance Against The Pats

Tonight the Rams are presented with a special opportunity, not only can they maintain their slim lead in the NFC West but they can complete their New England revenge tour. A month ago they beat Tom Brady and the Bucs and now they get another shot at Bill Belichick in Week 14.

Belichick has been a plague on the Rams, ever since Super Bowl XXXVI and the end of The Greatest Show on Turf, leading towards its decade-plus long downward spiral. While the Sean McVay Rams are probably not thinking about winning this one for Kurt Warner, they too are seeking vengeance against the team that made their offense look as impotent as a Nevada boxing commissioner. A victory tonight won’t change the fact that let the Lombardi Trophy slip through Brandin Cooks fingers but it will at let least prove they can get one over on the greatest coach of all time.

What’s funny about tonight’s game is that it’s very similar to their Super Bowl LIII matchup in that the Brandon Staley defense is likely to carry the way just as Wade Phillips‘ defense did two years prior. The offense once again has to prove it can solve a Belichick defense and yes, Brian Flores (who the Rams still can’t figure out) is gone but the blueprint is there.

Jared Goff has to prove he can handle the pressure again and McVay has to prove he can adjust in the moments when Goff struggles. What killed them in their prior meeting was they couldn’t get anything out of Todd Gurley and unfortunately, he was the engine that drove the offense, and not having Cooper Kupp was a death knell.

The good news is that not only do they have a healthy Kupp but now their running game isn’t a liability. Rookie Cam Akers has started to emerge as a dynamic back and while Darrell Henderson has a sore leg he was still able to score against the Cards. Malcolm Brown was also not in that Super Bowl matchup and he can pound the ball against the Pats’ less than stellar run defense. The offense has a lot more gears this time around and all McVay needs to do is utilize everyone correctly, something that he eventually figured out how to do on Sunday.

Defensively the Rams get a young and in certain spots a vulnerable Pats offense. Cam Newton isn’t the threat he used to be and the receivers will have a tough time against that swarming Rams secondary. Aaron Donald wants to both get payback on the Pats but also to separate himself from the other Defensive Player of the Year candidates and he can do that by putting the smackdown on Newton.

Still, it’s the Pats and while they won’t put up the kind of points they did on the Chargers, they can still figure out a way to challenge the Rams vaunted defense. The special teams game could also be a factor as the Rams are routinely exposed as inferior whereas Belichick has made it a priority.

Fans really want this win because all the Pats have done in the last 20 years is rip their hearts out and eat their souls. None of their regular-season matchups have been close being it in St. Louis, Foxborough, or London. Knocking the avocado ice cream out of Brady felt amazing but beating Belichick would be euphoric.

Sure, the Massholes will say it was a rebuilding Pats team and that they still couldn’t do it in the big game but who cares? McVay’s Rams have carried their Super Bowl loss for over a season now and slaying this demon could give them closure ahead of their impending playoff run.

If they win tonight they could also have a shot at running the table against a tanking Jets team, an erratic Seahawks team, and a cratering Cardinals team. They could go 12-4 and lock in a two seed in a very competitive NFC. The Rams have a shot at sweet sweet payback and the chance to strengthen their division lead but it all has to start with slaying the hooded dragon. Now if only they can find a way to beat Kyle Shanahan.