By Abraham Gutierrez
Winners of four consecutive ballgames, Adam Gase and the Miami Dolphins will have a golden opportunity to finish their California swing on a high note when they visit Jeff Fisher's Los Angeles Rams in Week 11 of the 2016 NFL season. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will be the site for this interconference clash of teams trying to keep their playoff hopes alive. Opening kick-off is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 4:05 p.m. ET live on FOX.
This game marks only the 13th time these franchises have crossed paths, with Miami holding a commanding 10-2-0 lead in the head-to-head series and riding a three-game win streak. The last time they met dates back to Oct. 14, 2012, when the Dolphins defended home field by coming away with a slim, 17-14 win over the then-St. Louis Rams.
Los Angeles Rams Record: 4-5-0
In their first season back in Southern California, the L.A. Rams are 4-5-0 midway through the 2016 NFL season. This team is 1-3 at home, which is a good sign for 'Fins fans, 3-2 on the road and 2-1 against divisional opponents. Against fellow NFC teams the Rams are 3-4, 1-1 versus non-conference foes and thanks to Sunday's (9-6) win over the NY Jets, Los Angeles is 1-4 in its last five games played.
Rams on Offense
Offensively, the Rams are one of the worst teams in football. Under offensive coordinator Rob Boras, Los Angeles is ranked last in points per game (15.4), 31st in total yards (308.0), 29th in rushing yards (82.6) and 25th in passing yards per contest (225.4).
Heading into Week 11, the Rams have yet to figure out a way to get their offense going, and there are rumblings that Fisher and Boras don't see eye-to-eye in terms of which direction to go. Last week, Boras told reporters that his intentions were to implement "explosive" passing plays designed to generate 20-yards or more.
Meanwhile, Fisher went on the record by stating that the team needed to "change what we've been doing," and focus more on pounding the rock.
Rams on Defense
There's no question that this team hangs its hat on the defensive side of the football. Led by controversial defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the Rams resistance is sure to test Miami's attack in more ways than one. However, all indications are that Dolphins' running back Jay Ajayi may be in for a huge game on Sunday.
The Rams defense will kick off Week 11 ranked in the top-10 in three of the four major statistical categories, as they're seventh in total yards allowed (327.0), eighth in passing yards (223.9) and 10th in points per game surrendered (19.2). That said, the lone area where they've struggled plays right into Miami's strengths, as their rushing defense ranks 17th in the NFL, yielding just over 103 yards per contest.
Rams Players to Watch: Case Keenum, Alec Ogletree
On offense, everyone knows that the Rams offense runs through running back Todd Gurley. However, this week's player to watch is quarterback Case Keenum (191-for-313, 2169 yards, 9 TDs, 11 INTs), as he's a guy Miami can pressure into making crucial mistakes. The fifth-year man out of Houston enters Week 11 tied for second in the NFL in interceptions, and his TD-to-INT ratio is also one of the worst in the league among starting signal-callers.
On defense, the Rams player to watch is middle linebacker, Alec Ogletree. In his fourth season out of Georgia, the former Bulldog leads the team in tackles (76), has a forced fumble and was responsible for sealing last week's win over the Jets with his first pick of the 2016 NFL season.
Opening lines for this contest initially had the LA Rams listed as one-point favorites at home over the Miami Dolphins. However, things have changed, slightly, and with good reason, as the game has now become a pick 'em. Don't be surprised if in the coming days the 'Fins go from being underdogs to betting favorites in what will be a great opportunity to extend their win streak to five games. Such a win will certainly continue their quest for a Wild Card berth.
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