Rams vs. Lions Expert Pick – January 14, 2024
RAMS VS. LIONS EXPERT PICK – January 14, 2024 – The Detroit Lions host their first playoff game in 30 years tonight against the Los Angeles Rams. Matt Stafford never imagined his first playoff game in Ford Field would be for the opposing team. But here we are. Emotions will be running high as both quarterbacks are returning to their former teams after being traded and swapped for each other before the 2020 season.
The deal worked out for both parties as Stafford won a Super Bowl that year and Jared Goff became an elite quarterback leading his team to the NFC North Division title.
Los Angeles Rams
(10-7 SU, 10-6-1 ATS)
(12-5 SU, 12-5 ATS)
When: Sunday, January 14, 2024, at 1:00 PM ET
Where: Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan
After the trade, Stafford posted an eight-minute-long tribute video to the fans and has never lost sight of what Detroit means to him.
“I understand what the people of Detroit and what the city of Detroit meant to me and my time and my career, what they meant to my family. I hope they feel that back,” Stafford explains after being asked about the crowd reaction upon his return. “But at the same time, I’m not a stranger to the situation in understanding that I’m the bad guy coming to town. I’m on the other team, and they don’t want success for me. So whatever happens, happens.”
It is Goff that may have something to prove playing against the team that drafted and then traded him away. He is not playing that role as it was much more important to him to lead this team and city to the postseason.
“I so badly want to win a game for this city and win a playoff game for this city that hasn’t had one in so long,” Goff said. “We’ve got a home playoff game for the first time in so long and that’s so much more important than anything personally for me. I want to be a part of this win and do my job to the best of my ability.”
Goff’s teammates and coach know that this has more meaning for their quarterback, even if he’s not saying it out loud.
“This isn’t we’re standing up there and, ‘Win one for the Gipper,’” coach Dan Campbell said. “But at the same token, I think we all know what this is. I mean we want to win for us. We all want this for us, and we want it for Detroit, but also, hey man, yeah, that’d be special. That would be special. That’s icing on the cake if you will.”
Whatever the motivation is for both teams this could be one hell of a good matchup tonight; and frankly the NFL needs that after two blowout games yesterday.
How the Rams Win
The Rams have been arguably the hottest team since Week 11. Stafford is sixth (104.5) in passer rating, eighth in yards per attempt (7.8), third in touchdowns (16) and fourth in success rate.
The Lions pass defense has been poor all season ranking 21st in passer rating allowed and 31st in yards per attempt (7.8).
Stafford has a slew of weapons at receiver with rookie Puka Nacua having a breakout season and All-Pro Cooper Kupp returning to form after injuries. Watch out for Demarcus Robinson as he has posted 319 yards and four touchdowns in his last five games. The passing game is what got them here and will be needed to move on to the next round.
How the Lions Win
The Lions are well balanced with the 4th ranked run offense and 7th ranked passing offense according to NFL.com.
They have a dominant offensive line that protects their quarterback and opens lanes for the running backs. Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery were held in check last week. They both rushed for under 100 yards for the first time since week 6 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Expect that to turn around this week as the Rams defense ranks 20th against the run and Gibbs and Montgomery rank 2nd and 3rd respectively in yards after contact.
If the running game gets back on track, watch out for Goff and his receiving threats led by Amon-Ra St. Brown who ranks 3rd in the NFL in yards, 2nd in catches, and 4th in touchdowns. Detroit is dangerous in the passing game as Jameson Williams provides the deep threat and Josh Reynolds can get sneaky yards.
This is my favorite matchup of the weekend. The storylines alone make it great theater with a coach in Dan Campbell. The Lions coach would run through a brick wall for his team and city.
The Rams have one of the greatest offensive minds in coaching with Sean McVay. The quarterbacks and all their trade drama.
The Rams rose from the ashes after a 3-6 start to the year. They look like the team that won the Super Bowl in 2021. With high-ranking offenses and middling defenses, this could be an old-fashioned barn burner. I am here to soak it all in.
It’s time to break out some classic Mitch Ryder, Bob Seger, Smokey Robinson and, of course Eminem while we watch the Detroit Lions, aka Devil With The Blue Uniforms, win a close, high-scoring game 34-31.