Sep 21, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; San Diego Chargers defensive end Kendall Reyes (91) sacks Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel (3) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. San Diego beats Buffalo 22 to 10. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
The Rams seemed like an easy win on the Chargers schedule until about a month ago. Now the Rams have wins under their belt against both of the 2014 Super Bowl teams after manhandling the Broncos last Sunday. They held the Broncos to just 28 rushing yards and denied them thrice on 4th down tries. This game is more or less a must-win for the Chargers if they want to keep pace with the Chiefs and Broncos in the division and the Dolphins and Steelers in the wild card hunt. It is a must-win mostly because of the rough stretch to finish the season when they play 5 solid teams, 4 of whom made the playoffs last year. Here are two things the Chargers must do beat the Rams on Sunday.
Rush for over 100 yards
The Rams have found success lately stopping the run. In their last 3 games, they have allowed a total of 136 yards rushing. That is about 45 yards per game. They held both the first place Broncos and the first place Cardinals to 28 yards rushing a piece. If the Chargers want to win this game, they must run the football. I would even go as far as saying they must run for over 100 yards. The last team to achieve that against St. Louis was the Chiefs, who beat up on the Rams 34-7. My prediction is that if the Chargers can achieve at least 100 yards rushing, they will win the game. We saw what happens when the Bolts can get to that mark, as they controlled the game against the Raiders while amassing 120 yards on the ground. They could not achieve that in any game of their 3-game losing streak. The Bolts are 4-0 this year when they run for at least 100 yards. Having a consistent run game controls the clock and allows the defense to get a break and play strong throughout the game.
Sack Rams QB Shaun Hill at least 3 times
The Rams have an inconsistent offensive line. On 5 occasions this year, the Rams QB has been sacked more than 3 times. All 5 of those games have been losses. On the flip side, they held the Cowboys and the Seahawks to zero sacks which resulted in them beating the defending champs and barely losing to one of the best teams in the NFC in the Cowboys. The Chargers must get pressure. If they can sack Shaun Hill at least 3 times, they will win. The Rams offense is not dynamic or explosive enough to overcome constantly losing big chunks of yards. With the return of a few key players from injury, the Bolts should get decent pressure. Jeremiah Attaochu could play a huge role in this game if he is 100% healthy.
If Ryan Mathews and Co. can get it done on the ground and the pass rush can be disruptive, they should move to 7-4 and in a position to make a postseason run. Obviously, a lot of other factors can and will come into play but these are two key components in the Chargers putting together a solid win.