Rams, Bills hope to continue surprising success
When discussing high-potent offenses in the NFL, no one will ever bring up the 2016 Buffalo Bills or the Los Angeles Rams. But the two teams that will be facing off in the Los Angeles Coliseum this Sunday are playing very good defense and winning football games.
The Bills, flying across the country for the first of three West-Coast visits, enter the game on a two-game winning streak. Those two wins came against many pundits picks for a Super Bowl LI matchup, the Arizona Cardinals and the New England Patriots.
The Rams are tied for the lead of the NFC West with the Seattle Seahawks at 3-1 but hold a victory over their division rival. Los Angeles has won three straight games, and though none of the victories were pretty, they all count as wins.
Said Rams quarterback Case Keenum, "I think good teams win the close games. I think that is this league. If you go across the board, every week I think most games, if not all of them, are one- or two-possession games. Some may be determined by a field goal or two.
"You see time and time again that the good teams win those games. They find a way to do it. It doesn't matter how, it matters how many at the end of the day. For us to find a way to get it done is a step in the right direction."
Statistically, Los Angeles is not a good team on offense.
The Rams are 30th overall in passing and own the worst overall offense in the NFL. They average 269 yards a game which is 21.5 yards behind the 31st worst team, the Minnesota Vikings who average 290.5 yards a game.
The Bills are not much better.
Buffalo has the 31st ranked passing attack in the NFL and ranks 28th in overall offense. The Bills average 307 yards of offense per contest. Where the Bills offense separates itself from the Rams offense is the run game. The Bills are seventh in rushing in the NFL with 123.2 yards a game. The Rams, with ballyhooed runner Todd Gurley, are 30th with 76.8 yards averaged on the ground.
This contest will be decided by the defenses and special teams play. Buffalo is coming off a shutout of the Patriots and the Rams stifling defense held a high tempo Arizona Cardinals offense to 13 points in the Week 4 win.
"We started off 2-1, but to be 3-1, I think it puts a different light on the team. I think that was great for us as an organization and a team," Rams linebacker Mark Barron said.
The play of Barron and fellow linebacker Alec Ogletree is one of the reasons Los Angeles has their current record. Barron has 29 tackles with seven passes defensed and two interceptions. Ogletree, the new leader of the defense, leads the team with 36 total tackles.
The defensive front, led by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Aaron Donald, has consistently put pressure on the quarterback the last three weeks. This week, that unit will need to help contain the Bills ground attack. Running back LeSean McCoy is 10th in the NFL in rushing with 297 yards rushing. The former Philadelphia Eagle has a 4.4 yard average and three rushing scores on the young season.
Conversely, a linebacker for the Bills has stepped up his game as well and been the catalyst to the upswing in Buffalo's defense. Linebacker Zach Brown became the starter when rookie Reggie Ragland blew out his knee in training camp. After four weeks of the 2016 season, Brown leads the NFL with 52 tackles and he had an 18-tackle performance against the Patriots to go along with two forced fumbles and a sack.
"It's a great win. My D-Line, I give them my hats off. They kept the offensive line off us. Me and Preston (Brown) were just free, running around making tackles," said Zach Brown of his epic game in New England. This was Zach Brown's third straight double-digit tackle game.
The Bills defense is hoping to be the reason the Rams rushing attack continues to struggle. Gurley, the much maligned runner for the Rams, only has 216 rushing yards on the season. His 2.6 yard average is the worst in the NFL for any player with over 33 attempts. Gurley has rushed the football the fourth most with 82 attempts. The Bills defense held New England running back LeGarrette Blount, who came into the Week 4 game as the NFL's leading rusher, to only 54 yards.