The New England Patriots (4-3) take on the St. Louis Rams (3-4) in London, England‘s Wimbley Stadium in the NFL’s 2012 International Series. Both teams enter the game looking to gain some additional momentum for the remainder of the season as they are involved in tight races in their respective divisions. Making the long trip to London isn’t many NFL players favorite thing to do but one thing is for certain, it is definitely an experience that none of them will ever forget.
The Patriots have one of the top offenses in the NFL and currently rank first in both total offensive yards gained per game (436.1 yards) as well as points scored per game (31 points and fifth in both passing yards gained per game (286.9 yards) as well as rushing yards gained per game (149.3 yards). The Pats defense however needs to get their act together in several categories such as offensive yards allowed per game (376 yards, 23rd in NFL), passing yards allowed per game (290 yards, 29th in NFL) and points allowed per game (23.3 points, 19th in NFL). The one statistical category where New England is sound in is rushing yards allowed per game (86 yards, 8th in NFL) but that could be a major factor in assisting them to a victory this week.
Tom Brady is having another Tom Brady kind of year so passing for 2,104 yards (2nd in NFL), 12 touchdowns (tied for 8th in NFL), just three interceptions and completing 65.3% of his pass attempts. Brady will be looking to rack up some overseas air mileage to his three major targets Wes Welker (54 receptions for 688 yards and 2 TD), Rob Gronkowski (35 receptions for 434 yards and 5 TD) and Brandon Llyod (35 receptions for 407 yards and a TD) in order to rack up points on the scoreboard and earn their fifth victory of the year. Aaron Hernandez didn’t amek the trip as he continues to struggle with an ankle injury, however the Pats shouldn’t miss him much with the other three playmakers in the passing game making big contributions this year. Stevan Ridley will also need to have a solid game running the ball as well in order to keep the Rams strong defensive unit off balanced. The Rams need to worry about Jerod Mayo and rookie Chandler Jones on the defensive side of the ball, these make huge plays against both the run and pass so St. Louis needs to account for these two on every play.
The Rams defensive unit is the teams strong suit and they are ranked eighth in points allowed per game (20.1 points), ninth in total yards allowed per game (324.4 yards), tied for 10th in rushing yards allowed per game (98.9 yards) and 14th in passing yards (225.6 yards) while their offense is ranked towards the bottom of the league in many categories including total offensive yards gained per game (315.1 yards, 28th in NFL), passing yards gained per game (209 yards, 24th in NFL) and points scored per game (18.6 points, 26th in NFL and are just a middle of the road team in rushing yards gained per game (106.1 yards, 16th in NFL).
Sam Bradford must play better in this game than he has for most of the season if the Rams are to have a chance at pulling off an upset in this one. This year Bradford has passed for 1,592 yards, seven touchdowns, six interceptions and completed just 59.8% of his attempts. Bradford will need to get the ball into the hands of Brandon Gibson (25 receptions for 335 yards and 2 TD) and Chris Givens (10 receptions for 270 yards and a TD) in order to make plays and score points which will be a necessity against a Patriots team that will put their share of points on the scoreboard. Steven Jackson (101 carries for 380 yards and a TD) and Daryl Richardson (55 carries for 282 yards) will definitely do their part running the ball and moving the chains but the Rams are still going to need to explosive plays out of the passing game. The Rams’ leading receiver Danny Amendola has made the trip with the team and is listed as questionable to play which is remarkable after suffering a dislocated clavicle just three weeks ago. On defense James Laurinaitis (69 tackles), Robert Quinn (7 sacks) and Chris Long (4 sacks) will lead the Rams in their attempts to slow down the potent Patriots offense.
This game will be a lot closer than many may expect as the Rams are a very competitive team and don’t get blown out however the Patriots have too much offensive fire power for the Rams to keep up with scoring and stopping consistently. I’ll take New England 27 – 20.