PATRIOTS (4-3) vs. RAMS (3-4)
Today, 1 p.m., at Wembley Stadium, London
TV:Text ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/Solid$ID/NothingText ColorText Color$ID/NothingText ColorText Color Ch. 4 (Jim Nantz and Phil Simms)
Radio: 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos and Scott Zolak)
The series:Text ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/Solid$ID/NothingText ColorText Color$ID/NothingText ColorText Color Patriots lead 6-5, including the victory in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Last meeting:Text ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/Solid$ID/NothingText ColorText Color$ID/NothingText ColorText Color Patriots 23, Rams 16; at Gillette Stadium, Oct. 26, 2008
Latest line: Patriots -7; Over-under Total 47
2012 STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
4-3 Record 3-3
Tie 1st, AFC East Standings 4th, NFC West
436.1 (1) Offense 315.1 (28)
149.3 (5) Rushing 106.1 (15)
286.9 (5) Passing 209.0 (24)
376.0 (23) Defense 324.4 (10)
86.0 (8) Rushing 98.9 (10)
290.0 (29) Passing 225.6 (14)
+11 Turnover margin Even
BY THE NUMBERS
7 — Forced fumbles combined this year by Pats’ book-end pass-rushers, Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich.
54 — Catches so far this year by one of the nicest guys I’ve ever had the opportunity to dine with, receiver Wes Welker. That puts Welker on pace for 123 catches. He IS the offense. And it’s time for him and Bill Belichick to patch things up. Pay the guy his money.
6,500 — Miles in this round-trip road journey. That mileage is more than the Green Bay Packers (5,774) will travel all season long.
.333 — Win percentage as a starter for Sam Bradford with the Rams at 11-22. That’s hardly the number they could have expected when drafting a franchise QB.
3.8 — Yards per carry this season for Steven Jackson, who with 380 yards through seven games is on the worst pace of his career, since his rookie season of 2004.
395 — Yards receiving in four starts this year by Danny Amendola. Out with a collarbone injury, Amendola returned to practice this week and there had been talk of his return to the lineup, although doubtful.
Keys to a Patriots victory
1. Finish for once — There is that pivotal possession, up two scores in the third, or one in the fourth, and you truly need to get the job done offensively. It’s football’s version of closer by committee. Don’t wait till the last possession. Finish the Rams off in the third quarter.
2. Don’t be so obvious — Try subtle nuances. At times, Josh McDaniel has been downright mundane with the play-calling “run-run-pass, run-run-pass.” Other times, he’s been the king of gadgets. Trying changing things up. But be subtle. Run stuffed on first down? Throw play-action on second. Throw on first, then run on second-and-10 if it goes incomplete. Just be creative, with restraints.
3. Keep the turnovers coming — The defense, if anything has been opportunistic, maybe even a little bit lucky. Let’s keep that run going.
Hector Longo’s prediction: Patriots 29, Rams 27; Longo’s 2012 record: (4-3 straight up; 2-5 vs. the spread)
Analysis: How can I go against the recent flow, which has the Pats building leads then unable to hold them? My heart wants Sam Bradford to be a solid, bigtime NFL QB. The wait has grown tiresome. So, I just feel the Rams will, per usual around the Patriots, find a way to bungle things in the fourth quarter and hand New England, which will sweat in this one, another victory.