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RAMS--LIONS

by Steve Savard

KMOV.com

Posted on September 27, 2006 at 9:39 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 3:26 PM

Surprised by the Rams' 2-1 start? A lot of people nationally are. Most don't consider the Rams legit. I can understand the skepticism and I hope it continues. For a change, the Rams are flying under the radar. The Rams will have to win their next two to get to 4-1 before they're taken seriously.

Comparing 2006 numbers to those of 2005 reveals the reasons behind the Rams 2-1 record. This season, the Rams are plus seven in the turnover category. After three games in 2005, they were plus one. The Rams defense has surrendered just 44 points in the first three games this season. By week three last year, the Rams had given up 57 points. Yes, the Rams were also 2-1 at this time last season but with the Rams offense struggling early this year, they'd be buried without the defensive contributions.

Reason for concern---at midweek, Orlando Pace was feeling some effects of the concussion he suffered in week 2. If Orlando can't play Sunday, the Rams will have to shuffle the line again. The Lions front four on defense is very good and very underrated. It's easily the best part of the Lions team. This is not the week to be moving guys around. Defensive tackle Shaun Rogers is a beast and as good as the Rams will see all year.

It will be interesting to see Mike Martz matched aginst Jim Haslett once again. They had some spirited battles in the old NFC West. You cannot possibly underestimate how badly each one wants to win. They're both ultra-competitive and not really all that fond of one another.

Obscure stat of the week--the Rams rank sixth in the NFL in punt coverage--allowing an average of just five yards per return. Give plenty of credit to punter Matt Turk but also keep an eye on Ron Bartell Sunday. He is the Rams back up safety /corner who wears number 24. He is one of the "gunners" who lines up wide and can head down the field at the snap of the ball.(the rest of the players on punt team have to wait until the ball is kicked.) Bartell has been routinely beating two blockers and getting down the field quickly enough to force a ton of fair catches. I'll bet he's in Lions' punt returner Eddie Drummond's face a lot as the ball is on its way down.

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