It’s another interconference contest in Week 1 of the NFL’s preseason slate coming to you from Charm City. The Los Angeles Rams are on the road as they make the cross-country trip to face the Baltimore Ravens (1-0) Thursday night. Los Angeles was 2-2 in the preseason last year, then went 11-5 en route to the NFC West crown: they lost in the wild card round of the playoffs, 26-13, to Atlanta. Baltimore opened the preseason with a 17-16 win over the Bears in the Hall of Fame Game last Thursday. The Ravens were 4-0 in the preseason in 2017 and finished 9-7 in the regular season: they missed the playoffs after losing 31-27 to Cincinnati in week 17. Baltimore took a 16-13 win at home in the last meeting between the teams on November 22, 2015.
Los Angeles Rams Try to Take Next Step
Los Angeles made their first playoff appearance since 2004 and won their first division crown since 2003, the final two full years of the Mike Martz era, last season. The Rams were intent on making moves to try and improve their chances at a potential Super Bowl run and for the most part, they were successful. Los Angeles re-signed Todd Gurley II to a four year extension worth $60 million, they traded for Brandin Cooks and inked him to a big deal while adding Ndamukong Suh and Aqib Talib to the defense. Of course, right now, there still is a problem and that is the status of Aaron Donald, who is currently holding out as he seeks an extension.
Jared Goff was terrific in his second NFL season as he completed 296 of 477 passes for 3,804 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season. Once he takes a seat, Sean Mannion, who was 22 of 37 for 185 yards last year, and Brandon Allen, who has not taken a NFL snap, are next on the depth chart. Gurley II ran for 1,305 yards with 13 scores while adding 64 receptions for 788 yards and six scores last season. Malcolm Brown (63 carries, 246 yards, TD) and Justin Davis are battling for the backup role and would be valuable if Gurley II goes down. Finding another receiver to back up the tough trio of Cooks (65 grabs, 1082 yards, seven TD), Robert Woods (56 catches, 781 yards, five TD) and Cooper Kupp (62 receptions, 869 yards, five TD) is going to be a key thing for Sean McVay. Josh Reynolds, Fred Brown and Pharoh Cooper have to step up and prove themselves in case one of the starting trio goes down. Cornerback is going to be a tough nut to crack as well with the Rams boasting Talib, Marcus Peters, Sam Shields and Nickell Robey-Coleman as the top four names on that part of the depth chart. Getting Donald into camp and ready for the season is important as well.
Baltimore Ravens Look to Build Off Preseason Opening Win
Baltimore picked up a win in the Hall of Fame Game despite having some offensive struggles. The Ravens tallied 17 points but were outgained 276-194 in the game. Baltimore gave up 19 first downs while picking up 15 in the game: their defense forced four turnovers, which helped set them up with favorable field position. Ten of the Ravens’ 17 points were set up by takeaways: they lost four yards on a drive that ended in a field goal and then went 36 yards in eight plays for what proved to be the game winning score.
Joe Flacco didn’t take the field in this one as coach John Harbaugh made the sound move to let him rest. Robert Griffin III, who hadn’t played in the NFL since January 1, 2017, got the start: he completed seven of 11 passes for 58 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Josh Woodrum was six of six for 37 yards while first-round pick Lamar Jackson was four of 10 for 33 yards with a touchdown and an interception while adding 25 yards on the ground. Gus Edwards was the leading ground gainer with 10 carries for 35 yards. He’ll be in the mix with Kenneth Dixon, Javorius Allen and Alex Collins for the starting role. First-round pick Hayden Hurst caught three passes for 14 yards and a score while tight end Maxx Williams hauled in the other touchdown pass. John Brown and Michael Crabtree, both of whom were signed in the offseason as free agents, also didn’t see the field in this contest.
- Ravens are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 Thursday games
- Rams are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Thursday games
- Rams are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall