After a rough October filled with injuries and losses, the Los Angeles Rams are finally hitting their stride again as they’ve won two games in a row.
The Rams dispatched a pair of NFC West rivals in the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals and have a chance to really threaten for a Wild Card spot when they host the Cleveland Browns in Week 13.
Like Los Angeles, Cleveland is also in the thick of a Wild Card race in the AFC and have also endured some tough injuries. The Browns ruled out Deshaun Watson for the remainder of the 2023 season due to a shoulder injury, while rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson is out as he works through the NFL’s concussion protocol. That means that Joe Flacco, who was recently signed to the practice squad, is expected to get the start for Cleveland.
Despite the uncertainty at quarterback for the Browns, the Rams must still take this game seriously as every win at this juncture of the season counts.
Rams Offense vs. Browns Defense
Cleveland may be struggling offensively, but their defense has kept them afloat as it’s one of the best units in the league. Myles Garrett and company have made it tough for teams to score points, so Sean McVay and Mike LaFleur have their work cut out for them.
Matthew Stafford is clearly not 100 percent as he continues to deal with a thumb injury, while Cooper Kupp also looked limited last week with his ankle. With the pillars of the Rams offense hurting, Kyren Williams is likely to see a hefty workload, though he’ll find it tougher to churn out yards against a stout Browns defensive line.
Rams Defense vs. Browns Offense
Defensively, Los Angeles will have to prepare for the unknown considering Flacco just got to Cleveland a couple weeks ago. It’s been a while since he’s starting an NFL game but there’s no doubt he still has a cannon of an arm.
David Njoku has established himself as a go-to receiving option, so the secondary will need to be wary of him catching the football and exploding for yards after the catch. There’s also the threat of Amari Cooper, who would benefit from having Flacco under center.
Keys to Victory
1. Utilize Williams in the screen game
Williams had a triumphant return against the Cardinals, gashing them on the ground and through the air. However, against Cleveland he should be able to do more damage catching the football so screens and dump offs would be the most effective ways to use him.
2. Control time of possession
The Browns have been winning games on the back of their defense, but the Rams can exploit this by controlling time of possession and forcing them to play from behind.