Patriots try to complete sweep of LA
The New England Patriots aim to complete a sweep of the tenants at SoFi Stadium on Thursday night when they visit the Los Angeles Rams.
The Patriots (6-6) enter the primetime showdown with four wins in their last five outings, including a convincing 45-0 victory over the Chargers in the same stadium on Sunday.
Coach Bill Belichick and team celebrated that triumph by staying in Los Angeles and working out at UCLA as opposed to making a pair of cross-country flights.
While New England will see the Rams (8-4) for the first time since posting a 13-3 victory in Super Bowl LIII, Belichick is focusing his attention on the present: Specifically Los Angeles’ third-ranked total offense (395.3 yards per game) and sixth-ranked passing offense (271.2).
The Patriots have the NFL’s third-ranked rushing offense (150.9), however the Rams counter with Aaron Donald leading their second-ranked defense (291.3) and third-ranked rush defense (93.1).
“He’s an outstanding player. He can wreck a game. There’s no play he’s not a factor on, he’s right in the middle of the defense,” Belichick said of the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, who is tied for second in the league in sacks (11).
“You can’t really get away from him on any run or pass play. You have to deal with him blocking on every play. He’s definitely a major factor in the game.”
Donald likely will have his eyes locked on Cam Newton, who accounted for three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) against the Chargers. Although Newton threw for just 69 yards, the former NFL MVP was not interested in tossing out any apologies for his performance.
“I am not here to throw up this and throw up that, but however the game needs to be won, that is what I am willing to do,” Newton said on WEEI Radio on Tuesday. “That’s running the football, that’s passing the football, and it’s my job to protect the football and be efficient.”
Newton (abdomen) joined cornerback J.C. Jackson (hip, knee) and special teams ace Matthew Slater (knee) among 14 players listed as limited in Tuesday’s practice for the Patriots.
Although healthy, Los Angeles’ Jared Goff likely had his ego bruised following recent criticism from coach Sean McVay. Goff, however, responded with one of his best performances of the season.
Goff completed 37 of 47 passes for 351 yards on Sunday as the Rams ascended to first place in the NFC West with a 38-28 victory over Arizona.
Those are some nice numbers for Goff, who wasn’t as successful the last time he faced the Patriots. He completed 19 of 38 passes for 229 yards with an interception and four sacks in the Super Bowl loss two seasons ago.
With the teams renewing acquaintances on Sunday, McVay was asked if that game is still in his mind.
“It’s definitely something that’s a big memory,” McVay said. “You try to move on. It was a very humbling night for myself, but you can’t dwell on it. It’s about how you move forward, how you transition. But that’s the biggest game I’ve ever been a part of as a coach. … But that really doesn’t have anything to do with how you move forward to the next season, or two years removed from that.”
Rookie Cam Akers appears to have taken control of the backfield after rushing 21 times for 72 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals. Akers, however, was listed as a non-participant on Monday’s estimated injury report and limited on Tuesday with an ailing shoulder.
Darrell Henderson Jr. and Malcolm Brown would receive more work in the backfield if Akers is unable to play.
–Field Level Media