Breaking down how the Rams (11-4) and the Baltimore Ravens (8-7) match up heading into their game at 10 a.m. PST on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The game will be shown on FOX.
When Rams have the ball: Quarterback Matthew Stafford aims to avoid a repeat of his three-interception performance in a 30-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Stafford came through with a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, but the Rams cannot expect to win if they give away the ball that many times. Sony Michel is coming off a 131-yard rushing performance, his second 100-yard effort in four games since becoming the starter. Darrell Henderson (knee) is on injured reserve, and Cam Akers (recovering from Achilles injury) is not expected to play. Rookie Jake Funk, who returned from a hamstring injury a few weeks ago, will back up Michel. With 132 receptions for 1,734 yards, receiver Cooper Kupp is on track to possibly establish NFL records for receptions and yards receiving in a season. But he would need 17 catches against the Ravens to tie Michael Thomas’ record of 149 set in 16 games in 2019. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is back after sitting out against the Vikings because he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Ravens, led by linebacker Patrick Queen, are their typically stout selves against the run. Because of injuries suffered by Marcus Peters and others in the secondary, however, they rank last in the league in pass defense.
When Ravens have the ball: Quarterback Lamar Jackson is listed as questionable because of an ankle injury that sidelined him for two games, including last Sunday’s 41-21 defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals. Jackson has passed for 16 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. He has rushed for 767 yards and two touchdowns. If Jackson does not play or is injured, the Ravens will turn to Tyler Huntley. Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray are the top running backs for an offense that ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing. Both have rushed for five touchdowns. Tight end Mark Andrews has a team-best 93 catches for 1,187 yards and nine touchdowns. Receiver Marquise Brown has 85 receptions, six for touchdowns. Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald, who has 12 sacks, was named NFC defensive player of the month in December. Nose tackle Greg Gaines had finger surgery Monday but is expected to play with a cast. With linebacker Ernest Jones on injured reserve, Travin Howard will continue to have an expanded role after intercepting a pass against the Vikings. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey has a team-best three interceptions. Safety Taylor Rapp is questionable because of a shoulder injury.
When they kick: Brandon Powell of the Rams was named NFC special teams player of the week after returning a punt for a touchdown against the Vikings. That cannot be the expectation every week, but Powell has breathed life into a special teams unit that otherwise has struggled, with the exception of Pro Bowl kicker Matt Gay, who has made 31 of 32 field-goal attempts.
Gary Klein’s prediction: It’s a long trip for the Rams and the Ravens are fighting for their playoff lives. But if Jackson plays it will be on a sore ankle, so the Rams will move another step toward clinching the NFC West title.
RAMS 30, RAVENS 17
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
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