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Week 15 – 3 Powerful Rams Motivators

The 6-6-1 St Louis Rams square off against the 7-6 Minnesota Vikings tomorrow at the Edward Jones Dome.  Most of the season I’ve compared the Rams’ squad to a roller coaster ride.  The beginning of the season they jumped out to a 3-2 start as the coaster shot up the mountain.  Next we lost 4 and tied 1 as the Rams came screeching down the other side of the hill.  The downturn left the Rams sitting with a record of 3-6-1.  At the bottom of the division fans began to wonder about their ‘new look’ Rams and head coach Jeff Fisher.  Coming out of the worst 5 years in NFL history it’s easy to expect the worse.  But instead, the roller coaster headed upward.  A win against a very bad Cardinals team, a remarkable upset over the division leading SF 49ers, and an ugly win against the Buffalo Bills brought us back to .500 after the season was feared lost.

Today my hope is that the circus ride has been replaced by a young team who has learned how to trust each other; a team that manages to find a way to win even when things aren’t pretty.  Heading into week 15 the Rams have 3 very powerful motivators.

1 Buy In – the season record speaks for itself.  This Fisher thing is starting to make sense.  Players are working hard and seeing positive results.  Coach Fisher is no longer someone who won games somewhere else; he is the guy helping the Rams get better right now.

2 Redemption – A lot of key Rams players have laid their hearts and souls down at the Edward Jones Dome (and other stadiums across the country) over the years without any appreciation for their efforts.  Consolation came with the thought “things will be different next year”.  Yes, these guys get paid well, but deep down a man wants to be proud of what he does.  This year could be the turning point and at the very least this is the year when respect is earned.

3 Momentum – Winning is a powerful aphrodisiac.  Win 1 blows by you as a pleasant fragrance.  Win sequentially and it settles long enough for you to breath it in.  Now win three games in a row in the NFL and that crap sticks to you.  You can’t get it off and you have no desire to do so.  You’ve learned that wins are not an accident.  It’s something you’ve become and take with you wherever you go.  This combined with playing in front of a home crowd will energize the Rams and make them unstoppable against the Vikings.

In my game preview earlier this week (, I talked about some practicals, but here are a few more keys to the game:

1 The Rams have to win the TE game – neither QBs are great under pressure.  Vikings QB Ponder is ranked 26th in the NFL, but our young talent Bradford is only a few ticks ahead of him at 21st.  Both of these guys can cause trouble if given the opportunity.  So which defensive dynamic duo is going to make the difference in the game?  It’s the Vikings Jared Allen and Brian Robinson against Chris Long and Robert Quinn.  The more effective tandem could decide the game.

2 Good tackling – forget about containing Adrian Peterson.  He has something special going on.  The key is not about containing him, but in eliminating break away runs.  He’ll run over defender number 1, but number 2 has better make that tackle.  And in the passing game the Rams must stop post reception gains.

3 3rd Down Conversions – the Rams are close to last in the league in this category.  I think part of the problem is smart play calling.  The Rams need to continue to run the ball.  Steven Jackson is also having an inspiring season.  Given the chance, he could make a huge impact late in the year.  More runs leads to shorter 3rd down attempts and more conversions.

4 This is obvious, but we have to keep a positive turnover ratio.  No questions here.  This is one of the most obvious and glaring reasons for a team’s victory or loss.  The Rams defense needs to continue to force turnovers while the offense must protect, protect, protect.

5 (Finally) Execution – the Rams have to play smart and effective ball on both sides of the field and the sidelines.  Watch the clock, eliminate stupid penalties, and make great plays (are you listening special teams?).

The Rams have a lot going for them tomorrow.  They are 3 point favorites which makes it a close contest.  Let’s keep this ride going upward men.  Go Rams!

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