With a Los Angeles Rams Week 13 game against the Cleveland Browns, there will be surprising playoff stakes. After the Rams seemed dead a few weeks ago, they're coming back into the playoff race, but they'll face a challenge in the Browns defense this week. Before the game, we'll make three Rams Week 13 predictions.
Are the Rams playoff contenders? It looks to be the case with Los Angeles riding a two-game win streak over two of their divisional opponents. This included a surprising 17-16 upset over the Seattle Seahawks. With the Seahawks losing their next two games, they dropped to 6-6. The Rams are now 5-6 and have already swept Seattle, so they can steal the seventh seed from the Seahawks. Los Angeles initially fell out of the picture when they dropped to 3-6 and Matthew Stafford suffered an injury, but the two wildcard spots in the NFC are up for grabs. The Rams may not be the same team who won the Super Bowl almost two years ago, but they have their core with Stafford, Sean McVay, Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp.
Now, the Rams are looking to even out their record against the Browns, who are once again plagued with quarterback issues. After Deshaun Watson was injured again — this time for the rest of the season — Cleveland turned to Dorian Thompson-Robinson. However, DTR is in concussion protocol so the Browns are moving Joe Flacco for this week's game. Though Flacco was once a Super Bowl champion and the subject of the never-ending “is he elite” talk, he's far past his prime. The Browns are just hoping Flacco can manage the game and let their defense stop the Rams to force the win. Easier said than done, especially with quarterback Matthew Stafford coming off a four-touchdown game.
If the Rams can get this win and move to 6-6, they'll seriously be in the thick of playoff contention again. Meanwhile, a loss for the Browns could spell trouble amid a crowded AFC playoff race. With all this at stake, let's move on to our Rams Week 13 predictions.
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Rams RB Kyren Williams rushes for over 120 yards
One of the keys to the Rams huge 37-14 victory — besides playing the Arizona Cardinals — was running back Kyren Williams. While dealing with an ankle injury, Williams missed over a month of play and the Rams' rushing attacked suffered. In three of the last four games he's played, Williams has eclipsed 100 yards. In his last two games, he's averaged over 7.5 yards per carry.
His most recent game was a spectacular return for the second-year back, who ran for 143 yards on 16 carries for an average of 8.9 yards per carry! For good measure, he added six receptions for 61 yards and two receiving touchdowns. The “weak” spot of the Browns defense is their run D, which gives up over 100 yards per game. They're still above average, but not up to the level of their top-ranked pass defense. If the Rams are smart, they'll exploit opportunities in the run game.
WR Puka Nacua records 10 receptions
Puka Nacua was one of the stories of the year early on this season, but he's seemingly faded from the headlines the past couple months. Nacua first broke rookie records when he had 25 receptions combined in his first two games. He's still grabbing multiple receptions every game, but he's taken a backseat, especially after Cooper Kupp returned from injury.
Against a tough Browns pass defense, look for Cleveland to focus on covering Kupp which could free up Nacua for short-yardage or easy throws.
Rams sack Joe Flacco five times
Myles Garrett has been one of the talks of the NFL this season, with the Cleveland Browns defender a favorite for to win his Defensive Player of the Year award. However, in this matchup three-time DPOY Aaron Donald has the chance to show who's king.
The Rams defensive line will also have an advantage since they're going up against an older Flacco, who is not nearly as mobile as he used to be. Expect the Rams pass rush to overwhelm Flacco, who hasn't played football in almost a year and may not be ready to face Darnold and NFL rushers.