When Todd Haley became aware that the Rams have given up the third-most rushing yards in the NFL (306), his first thought was probably: “We shall run the ball.” When he noticed that his current running back (DeAngelo Williams) has the second-most rushing yards in the NFL (204), his next thought was most likely: “Yep, we are definitely going to run the ball.” Then, when he remembered that the best running back in football (Le’Veon Bell) is returning from suspension, Haley’s culminating thought was assuredly: “We are going to run the ball down their throats!!!”
And I wholeheartedly agree.
Of course, some naysayer will undoubtedly bring up the fact that the Rams gave up over a third of those yards (124) on just four plays. To which I say: exactly.
In order to explain my exuberance, let’s go back to last season, to the first Bengals game. In that game, the Steelers ran to the left, ad nauseum… and the Bengals could not stop it. David DeCastro would pull to the left, springing Bell for big gain after big gain after big gain.
Now, if we fast-forward back to those four aforementioned running plays against the Rams, all four were to the left side. In other words, if St. Louis has a weakness on defense, it is stopping the run to the left. Coincidentally, Pittsburgh’s strength is running to the left. Ergo, when the movable object (St. Louis’ right side) meets the unstoppable force (Pittsburgh’s penchant for running left)… well… it does not look good for St. Louis’ rush defense.
Extrapolating upon that, the best way to slow down a pass rush, which the Rams excel at, is with screen passes to the running back. So, not only will the Rams have to contend with Bell and Williams having the ball in their hands on running plays, the odds are that the ball will end up in their hands on several passing downs, too. I am not one to go out on a limb with predictions, but let me put it this way: if you are a fantasy football owner who has Le’Veon Bell, he will probably be your highest scorer this week… almost exclusively to the left.