(BaseballStL) -- Well, it's not going to be easy. Not in the slightest. Beating Detroit on Sunday is something virtually no one is expecting across this country. The Lions have more talent, more experience...and did I mention more talent? But sometimes the biggest surprises come when teams have nothing to lose because no one is expecting anything from them. The Rams may need some of that to win.
Either way, here are the keys to the Rams shocking the world...or at the very least staying competitive into the 4th quarter:
1) Run, Steven, run
There's only one way to guarantee Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and company can't put 52 points up on you. Just one. That's by keeping them on the sidelines. And the only way to do that is to run the football, control the clock and keep churning out 1st downs. If the Rams can find a way to get a push along the offensive line (something that would be a victory in itself) and give Steven Jackson some room to run, he can find a way keep the chains moving. Think about it. If the clock is ticking, if the Rams win the time of possession battle and Johnson/Stafford are standing on the sidelines then that minimizes the Lions' opportunities to strike...therefore giving the Rams a chance. However, if the Rams cannot run the football, if they cannot keep the chains moving, if they go 3 and out on a regular basis and keep handing the ball back to Detroit...the opposite occurs. You're maximizing opportunities for Johnson and Stafford. Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins might get lucky for a few series. But if you keep testing fate, fate's going to bite you. And the next thing you know Calvin Johnson is going to make fans think they're in London watching track and field in the Olympics. It could get really ugly, really quickly if the Lions have the ball too much. Controlling the clock with Steven Jackson is the only fail safe way to keep Detroit's offense from running up the score. The only one.
2) Bend but don't break on defense
While running the ball is nice and can certainly help, the Lions are going to get the ball at some point. And they're going to take their chances down the field to score. No one shuts down Calvin Johnson. No one. I'd love to see Deion Sanders in his prime try and stop Megatron because, honestly, I'm not so sure he'd do very well. Johnson is just too big (6"5", 236 lbs), too fast (4.32 in the 40 yard dash) and is too athletic to completely stop. He, and the Lions, will get their plays. The key is to not let them go crazy to the point where the Rams offense doesn't even stand a chance. It's called bend but don't break. Bend...meaning you can give up a big play or two. Break...meaning giving up 42 points. Sam Bradford won't be putting up that many at Ford Field. But if the Lions manage, say, 21 or so...I think the Rams offense is capable of scoring that many. In order to keep Detroit from doing this it's going to take a total team effort defensively. First, Chris Long and Robert Quinn have to get to the quarterback and knock Stafford down. If Stafford has only a few seconds from the time the ball is snapped to being hit, even the super fast Calvin Johnson can't get all the way down the field that quickly. So getting a good pass rush on the QB will be key. In addition, the secondary will have to play with nearly flawless technique. Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins and even Trumaine Johnson will need to use their hands and bodies in ways that make it hard to give Stafford a good target. Obviously, this is all easier said than done.
3) No stupid mistakes
The fastest way to get run out of the building against a team that's better (i.e. more talented) than you is to make mistakes. That's defined as turnovers and penalties. Sure, some penalties are going to happen in the heat of the moment. It's unreasonable to expect a team to have zero flags on the day. But if the Rams can minimize the penalties and have no turnovers, it gives them a better chance to pull off the upset. The Lions are better. Everyone knows that. But handing the ball back to them or shooting yourself in the foot with flags just makes it that much harder to do. Pulling off an upset of this magnitude carries virtually no margin for error. Penalties and turnovers not only chews up that margin, but it almost always exceeds it. History says inferior teams don't beat superior ones when making mistakes. This will have to be a nearly mistake free game to have a chance for the Rams.