Patriots: 3 things to watch against the Rams

Steven Jackson can still run wild given the opportunity.

Three things to watch Sunday as the Patriots play a “road” game against the Rams in London (1 p.m., CBS):

Fingers crossed on secondary, as always
It is very well possible that the Patriots will continue on their tour of making mediocre quarterbacks look great when they take on Sam Bradford and the Rams on Sunday. On the year Bradford averages 209 passing yards per game. He’s thrown seven touchdown and six interceptions. None of those numbers are impressive, but don’t forget that Russell Wilson and Mark Sanchez average less passing yards per game than Bradford. Part of the reason Bradford doesn’t rack up yardage is because St. Louis only throws the ball an average of 31.4 times per game, or 24th most in the league. But the NFL is a copycat league, and you can bet the Rams will take their chances through the air before testing the Pats eighth-ranked run defense. 

Attack, attack, attack
There are a few things to look for this Sunday when the Patriots offense takes the field. First of all, who is matching up against Wes Welker? It will most likely be Rams in-your-face cornerback Cortland Finnegan, which means Welker could be targeted less than usual. Second, what’s the deal with Brandon Lloyd? Lloyd was targeted eight times last week, making only one catch and dropping a couple that he normally reels in. He could be called upon more if Welker is busy fending off Finnegan. St. Louis gave up 332 pass yards to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last week, so they are vulnerable. Like New England, St. Louis is a better run defense team, allowing 98.9 yards per game on the ground, so perhaps the Pats stray from Stevan Ridley and the running game a bit.

Don’t be so dismissive
It’s easy to think of the St. Louis Rams as one of the weaker teams in the NFL. After all, their best record since 2003 has been 8-8 (twice). But don’t let the 3-4 record fool you. The Rams have beaten the Seahawks and Cardinals, two teams the Patriots couldn’t beat. They just barely lost to the Lions and Dolphins, and competed with the Packers. They won’t put up a ton of points, but if they can get a lead late, Steven Jackson is a good enough back to run time off the clock, and the Rams defense has made plenty of stops.


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