Sunday Spotlight: Browns at Rams

When looking at the match-up between the Browns at Rams it most certainly is lacking in sex appear. These are two teams meeting at a crossroads, and it may go a long way into determining which path each will take to close the season.

The Browns are a team fresh off of a devastating loss, though they had an undefeated Broncos team in their house and on the ropes. They let the Broncos off the hook, and now at 2-4 this team is on the verge of deflation. Many people seem to think this team is buzzing forward, but with their only wins being against the Titans at home in a rookie quarterback’s second career start, coupled with a road win in Baltimore, this may not have been all that impressive of a feat.

The Rams on the other hand have been tested early and often. When looking at the Seahawks, Cardinals, Packers and Steelers you are talking about four legitimate Super Bowl contenders. For the Rams to go 2-2 in their first four games with a new quarterback, and rookie running back that sat out the first two weeks, it is impressive to see where this team is.

Rookie running back Todd Gurley is the key here. Gurley was eased-in week three against the Steelers and in his last two games he had 49 carries for 305 yards—a 6.2 yards per carry mark. When looking at defensive efficiency, the Cardinals are 3rd in the league and the Packers rank 20th against the run. While the Packers may not be as impressive, it is worth noting that the Browns ranked 31st in defensive rushing efficiency. Gurley’s carries per game have gone from 6, to 19, to 30, and considering the 30 came in a trailing spot when the team should have been throwing I think it is clear this team is all-in on Gurley, and that 30 touches should be the norm.

The Rams must have the edge in this game. Coming off of a road loss and having a full week to prepare for Josh McCown and his career 69:62 TD:INT ratio, I can see them coping rather easily. The Rams are without Chris Long, but in their position of greatest depth for the team they should manage just fine in that regard. Look for the Rams to cruise in this one, winning by at least one score.

I see these teams go in different directions after this game. I see the Rams in a spot that could take them into the playoff race. At 3-3 with wins over their two division rivals, games against San Francisco, Minnesota, Chicago and Baltimore are to come. This is a team that is now battle-tested, may get their confidence, and is going into a stretch of five very winnable games. The Rams are on the rise, and I think the next five weeks are going to be the reason why.

As for the Browns, facing a real test off an emotional loss is not a great spot. What could make it worse is being 2-5 and having the Cardinals at home, followed by road games at the Bengals and Steelers. By the end of that Steelers game, this team could be dead in the water, around the same time the Rams pool party begins.

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