Ravens plot to stop skidding against Rise of Rams
December 21, 2021; Inglewood, California, United States; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) celebrates after scoring in a 29-yard touchdown reception against the Seattle Seahawks in the second half at SoFi Stadium. The Rams defeated the Seahawks 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
One month away from a three-game losing streak that seemed to seal their fate as a wild card team, the Los Angeles Rams are now chasing an NFC West title as they head to the cross country to face the Baltimore Ravens Sunday.
The Ravens are the opposite of what the Rams are going through, losing their grip on the AFC North lead as they were on a four-game losing streak and suddenly in a race to advance to the playoffs .
The Rams (11-4) were in an offensive funk behind suddenly inconsistent quarterback Matthew Stafford when they lost back-to-back games in November to the Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers.
However, they went 4-0 in December and come off a 30-23 victory over Minnesota last week, which put them in exclusive possession of the first place in the NFC West against the Arizona Cardinals.
The offense is still not as strong as it was at the start of the season under Stafford, who threw three interceptions against the Vikings, but the running game was better behind Sony Michel, who averaged 105.8 yards per game in the last four games.
“It’s not lost on me. The better I play, the better our offense and the better our chances of winning football matches, ”said Stafford. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and I expect a lot of myself.”
With Rams running back Darrell Henderson (knee) sidelined this week, Cam Akers is set to make his 2021 debut after an offseason injury to Achilles that was initially expected to cost him his season.
The Rams get top production from a pair of Pro Bowlers, wide receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Kupp leads the NFL in receptions (132), yards (1,734) and touchdowns (14). Donald has 12 sacks and was the key to a defense that has allowed an average of 15.8 points in the last four games.
The Ravens (8-7) hope to recover quarterback Lamar Jackson from an ankle injury in a Dec. 12 loss to the Cleveland Browns. He was limited to training on Wednesday.
“Obviously getting number 8 back is special because he’s a special player, and I think we’re all excited about it,” said tight end Mark Andrews.
Even if Jackson returns, it remains to be seen if he can rely on his rushing ability. His 767 rushing yards lead all quarters.
Perhaps the main concern, however, is a Baltimore defense that was torched last week for 525 passing yards by Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals, the fourth highest in a game in NFL history. .
The Ravens’ defense has not only been hit hard by the injuries, but it has also been diminished by the problems of COVID-19. Defensive backs Chris Westry and Jimmy Smith returned from the COVID-19 list this week.
Eleven Ravens did not practice on Wednesday, including cornerback Anthony Averett (ribs / chest) and linebacker Anthony Levine Sr. (knee). Pro Bowl full-back Patrick Ricard (knee), who has missed the last three games, has also been sidelined.
The Rams, who visited on Wednesday, listed only safety back Taylor Rapp (shoulder) and defensive lineman Greg Gaines (hand) as non-participants.
–Field level media