LONDON Ė The Patriots would really like to get a victory to propel them into the bye week against a Rams team that will play tough. Here are five keys to victory for the Patriots:
- Get pressure on Bradford: Sam Bradford, on his third offensive coordinator in as many years, is prone to some mechanical problems if heís rushed. If the Patriots donít get pressure on Bradford, heíll carve them up worse than Mark Sanchez. This is a poor offensive line, especially on the left side and at right tackle. The Patriots must win one-on-one matchups to move Bradford off his spot and to limit the down-field shots the Rams are going to want to take.
- Offensive tackles do their job: Both Rams ends, Robert Quinn (right) and Chris Long (left) present unique challenges. Quinn possesses the type of inside moves that have given LT Nate Solder problems. Longís strength and non-stop motor, could be an issue for RT Sebastian Vollmer, who has played well for the most part but has continued to battle back issues. If the Patriots canít protect Tom Brady against the ends, itís going to be a long game.
- Double moves on the outside: We should see a lot of Brandon Lloyd against LCB Janoris Jenkins, the rookie. Jenkins has a lot of talent and will attempt to jump a few passes. But he guesses a lot. Look for the Patriots to bait Jenkins early, and then go with the slant-and-go route later to take advantage of Jenkinsí over-agressiveness. Against his former team and coming off his worst game as a Patriot, look for Lloyd to try to bust out in this one.
- Gronkowski down the middle: The Rams are really limited in the middle of the field at safety. Theyíll probably bracket Wes Welker a lot, so that could allow Gronkowski to work in the deep middle of the field. If heís healthy, it could be a big game for him.
- McDaniels needs to stay within himself: Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has done something funky in every game, usually in a bad spot midway through the second or third quarter when the Patriots were prepared to take control of the game. McDaniels, facing one of his former teams, may be trying to show off a little bit. He should avoid that, especially against a team that is less talented. Just let Brady be Brady. Run the ball a bit, have Brady take the checkdowns to the running backs, and stay out of the way.
This feels like a close game because the Rams can pressure with four. Of course, everytime I thought it was going to be a blowout, the Patriots struggled. The Patriots must get pressure on Bradford. If they donít, itís going down to the wire again. If the Patriots canít get pressure against this line, they might be hopeless. I think they get it done. Finally.
Patriots 30, Rams 20