The Rams have one of the top offenses in the NFL (fourth in total yards, seventh in passing) and quarterback Jared Goff has benefited the most from Sean McVay's exit from the NFC East. Goff is really showing why he was the top pick in last year's draft, but I must say, defense has been a major contributor in the Rams' 9-3 record.
First-year defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has total control of the defensive side of the ball. In fact, McVay at times doesn't have a clue during the game what the defense is doing, considering he sits and focuses on the offense.
It is really crazy to think about how good this defense is because it is in a transition period ... kind of like what Jim Schwartz struggled through last year.
Last season, when the Rams' defense was pretty good, they ran a 4-3. Phillips, however, likes to run a 3-4 defense. This is a major change to overcome, especially on the defensive line. The D-line has to totally change its mindset. In a 4-3 defense, the D-linemen line up in the gaps and are responsible for one gap, penetrating the offensive line. Converting to a 3-4 defense causes the D-linemen to become two-gap players. They now line up head-up on an offensive lineman and then hold the offensive lineman because they are responsible for both gaps between the O-linemen.
Phillips, in order to take advantage of the strengths of his players, turned his 3-4 defense into a hybrid that takes advantage of his two best players, defensive end Robert Quinn and defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Both of these players are great at attacking and penetrating the O-line. This is totally against the conceptual defensive structure of a 3-4 defensive lineman. The Rams slide the DL into gaps and allow them to penetrate.
This hybrid 3-4 defense is very effective for the Rams because they now can line their best player up to force matchups. The key matchup in this game will be Donald, their best, against the Eagles' small but solid center Jason Kelce. Donald is listed at 6-1/300 while Kelce is 6-3/280.
The other key matchup is the very quick end Quinn vs. Lane Johnson. All four players will probably be selected to the Pro Bowl this year.
This Sunday will be a clash of the titans between the Eagles' best O-linemen and the best the Rams have to offer. This is what Sunday NFL Football is all about.