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-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff. (Image Source: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Here’s a look at the matchup between the Cleveland Browns and the Los Angeles Rams:
Series: Rams lead 11-9; Streak: Rams have won the past two; Last Meeting: Rams 24, Browns 6 (12.25.15)
Time: 8:20 PM ET; TV: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)
Where They Stand:
There doesn’t appear to be a Super Bowl hangover in Los Angeles, as the Rams are 2-0 to start the season, including a win over the New Orleans Saints in an NFC Championship Game rematch. They’ve scored 57 points through two games, compared to the Cleveland Browns who have put up just 36 points two weeks in. The Browns fell flat on their face in Week 1 and while they won comfortably last week, how much of that is a product of playing the New York Jets? It looks like the Rams will once again be among the NFC’s elite, while the Browns still have to prove they deserved all the preseason praise heaped upon them.
When the Rams Have the Ball:
Fresh off signing a record contract extension prior to the season, Jared Goff had a strong Week 2 performance with 283 yards and a touchdown pass (112.6 rating), after a sluggish opening game. Since 2017, Goff has led the Rams to 14-3 road record and they are a perfect 8-0 against the AFC. In four of his past six interconference games, the Cal product has thrown for 300-plus yards with at least three TD passes. The depth at receiver is impressive with the troika of Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp. It was a big game for Kupp last Sunday as he put up 120 yards, his fourth career 100-yard game. Cook caught a touchdown pass and went for 74 yards. All three are capable of turning in 1,000-yard seasons.
Cleveland’s defense is built around getting pressure on the opposing quarterback in multiple fashions. They can do it with a traditional pass rush and just letting their talent win out. Defensive end Myles Garrett could be emerging as the NFL’s premiere pass rusher. The former No. 1 overall pick has five sacks through two games, including a career-high three on Monday Night Football. If the Rams slide their protection to account for Garrett it would open things up for Oliver Vernon, who is also a dangerous edge rusher. The Browns will also blitz. Safety Morgan Burnett (questionable/quadricep) has a sack in both games this season.
When the Browns Have the Ball:
While the Rams might have the most-productive trio at wide receiver, the Browns will stack up Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry against any duo in the NFL. Beckham Jr. had a huge game on Monday night with 161 yards on six catches, including an incredible one-handed catch and a career-long 89-yard touchdown. Quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 325 yards in the win, his fourth-straight game with at least 280 yards and a touchdown. Running back Nick Chubb posted 98 scrimmage yards and backup D’Ernest Johnson had 50. In his past five homes games, Chubb has produced at least 80 yards from scrimmage.
The anchor of LA’s defense is defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who leads the NFL with 31.5 sacks since 2017. Considered by many to be the league’s best defender, Donald is a crowd silencer with nine sacks in his past six road games. Last season’s leading tackler Cory Littleton is at it again, with 22 stops through two games with multiple passes defensed in each contest. Complementing the returnees are newcomers Clay Matthews and Eric Weddle, a pair of long-time veterans. Matthews produced a sack last week from his linebacker position, while Weddle posted seven tackles along with a pass breakup.
Score: Rams 27, Browns 24
Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.
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