It took every second for the New England Patriots to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game: the Chiefs took the Patriots to overtime despite falling behind 14-0 in the first half. However, Tom Brady and company took care in extra time to set up a meeting with the Los Angeles Rams in two weeks. We will have plenty of content about the reigning NFC West champions, but for right now let’s make sure to get a first impression of the matchup ahead with our five quick things to know about Patriots versus Rams.
Los Angeles was tied for the best record in football this year
The Rams under second-year head coach Sean McVay were able to improve on their 11-5 campaign from a year earlier and finished the regular season at 13-3 — tied for the best record in the league and only losing out for the top seed in the NFC on a tiebreaker against the New Orleans Saints. However, L.A. got the last laugh: the team beat the Saints in the conference championship game earlier today to a) get revenge for their 45-35 loss in week nine, and b) win the NFC with a 26-23 overtime victory.
The Rams have a terrific offense...
A big reason for Los Angeles’ success this season is an offensive attack that averages 32.4 points per game through its first 18 contests. The team does it by being efficient on the ground and productive through the air, ranking in the top-10 in most major statistical categories. The Rams’ balanced attack will present a challenge for a Patriots defense — a unit that looked strong at times against the Chiefs today.
...and it’s not just Todd Gurley
Just like Kansas City, the Rams have plenty of playmakers on offense. The biggest of the group is running back Todd Gurley, who is leading L.A. with 1,962 yards from scrimmage and 23 touchdowns so far this season. However, he is far from the only player worth keeping an eye on: the wide receiver duo of Robert Woods and ex-Patriot Brandin Cooks is one of the best in the business, while quarterback Jared Goff is having a Pro Bowl season in his second year as the full-time starter.
The Rams have plenty of star power on defense
Los Angeles has arguably the best defensive player in the NFL anchoring its D-line — Aaron Donald — and he is far from the only super star in the team’s defensive fold. Ndamukong Suh is having a solid year as are linebacker Cory Littleton and safety Lamarcus Joyner. And while the group was ranked below average in both points (24.0) and yards (358.6) given up per each regular season game, it was outstanding in producing turnovers and keeping the pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
New England will meet some old friends
One member of the Rams’ defense is a former Patriot: cornerback Aqib Talib, who is in his first year with the club. While he had to spend parts of the season on injured reserve due to an ankle issue, he is back in the lineup now as a key rotational player in Los Angeles’ defensive backfield. Talib, of course, is not the only Ram with ties to New England: the aforementioned Brandin Cooks was the Patriots’ number one wide receiver last year before getting traded to Southern California for a first-round draft pick in early 2018.
Welcome to the Pats Pulpit Live Postgame Show: AFC Championship Edition The Patriots win a wild one and are headed to Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta!Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, January 20, 2019