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Three keys vs. the Rams

Posted by Tom Wilcox October 23, 2008 05:57 AM

1. Tough timing
The Patriots would probably have been better served in this matchup three weeks ago, when the Rams were in turmoil. St. Louis started the year 0-4 and was outscored, 147-43. The team then fired head coach Scott Linehan before the bye week and promoted defensive coordinator and former New Orleans Saints head coach Jim Haslett (below) to interim head coach. The move paid immediate dividends as St. Louis shocked Washington, 19-17, in Haslettís first game and then rolled to a stunning 34-14 win over Dallas on Sunday.

2. Contain Jackson
The most interesting matchup on Sunday figures to be Steven Jackson against the Patriotsí defense. Jackson, who has eclipsed 1,000 yards three years in a row, is coming off a 160-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Cowboys. The Patriots have allowed an average of 117.2 yards per game on the ground, 19th in the NFL. Jackson, however, might be somewhat limited: he strained his quadriceps late in the win over Dallas but is expected to play against New England. For the season, Jackson has run for 508 yards, an average of 4.2 yards per carry. He is fifth in the NFC in rushing yards.

3. Take a run at them
The first four lopsided losses have skewed the numbers a bit, but Haslett is known as a defensive coach. The Rams improved right away when he took over, allowing 17 points to the Redskins and 14 to the Cowboys. Overall, they are 30th in the NFL in points allowed at 29.2 per game. The running game keyed the Patriotsí success on offense against Denver on Monday, and whether itís Sammy Morris, LaMont Jordan, or BenJarvus Green-Ellis getting the majority of the carries, the Patriots should be able to find some open running lanes Sunday. The Rams are 30th in the NFL in run defense at 161.5 yards per game.

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