NFL Week 5 preview: LA Rams have gone from toothless to ruthless

EJ Gaines of the LA Rams
Defence has been the key for the LA Rams with seven sacks and four interceptions so far this season

When the Los Angeles Rams were taken apart by an average-looking San Francisco 49ers on the opening NFL weekend, the critics were queuing up to write them off as contenders.

The match-up was selected for prime time TV in the United States with an audience of 14 million hoping to see the number one overall draft pick make his debut. But quarterback Jared Goff didn't even suit up as a toothless Rams were beaten 28-0 in a game that sent me to sleep in the third quarter.

Now they stand at 3-1 for the season. In consecutive weeks, they have beaten Seattle Seahawks - many people's Super Bowl favourites - put 37 on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa and seen off divisional rivals Arizona Cardinals too.

How? Well, Goff still hasn't played a snap in the NFL. Their second-year running back Todd Gurley, last season's offensive rookie of the year, is only averaging 2.6 yards per rushing attempt.

Yet head coach Jeff Fisher has got his defence back on track. They are 23rd in overall defence in the NFL but their turnover ratio is fourth in the league.

When your defence gives the offense shorter fields to work with, then points are easier to come by.

Just one more thing: the Rams have got to this stage with no permanent home after relocating from St Louis last season. Their new stadium will not be ready until 2019. They currently reside at the Memorial Coliseum (home of the 1984 Olympics) yet train 50 miles away in Thousand Oaks.

LA Rams head coach Jeff Fisher
LA Rams head coach Jeff Fisher won the Super Bowl as a player

Training camp in the summer was 90 miles away and they will travel more than 37,000 miles through the air this year - in excess of 5,000 more than any other team. On the plus side, they will be accruing lots of frequent flyer miles. They head to England next week for the first NFL game at Twickenham.

So, if you're a fan of tight defensive games, tune in to BBC Radio 5 live sports extra as the Rams play host to the Buffalo Bills (2-2), who will be full of beans after shutting out the New England Patriots last week.

The Bills' colourful head coach, Rex Ryan, loves rubbing people up the wrong way but whether you love him or loathe him, he gets his teams ready to play and has one of the smartest defensive minds in the game.

My five things to look out for in Week 5

1. Good luck Cleveland. You're having a horrible season at 0-4, and now you welcome the Patriots, who are angry they were shut out at home last week. And to rub salt into the wounds, four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady is back from his Deflate-gate suspension and will want to prove a point. Ouch.

2. Arguably the best defence in the league plays the best offense as the Atlanta Falcons travel to the Denver Broncos.

3. Dallas Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has led his side to a 3-1 record and has yet to throw an interception in 131 attempts. Prescott has also shown excellent poise and decision-making qualities. As Tony Romo nears a return to fitness, can the youngster continue to impress this week at home to the dangerous Cincinnati Bengals and take the job permanently?

4. After every London match, the two sides take a bye week to get over the travel. For the first time that won't be the case as the Indianapolis Colts welcome the Chicago Bears to Lucas Oil stadium. The Colts are poor, even with top-rated quarterback Andrew Luck at the helm, and they may regret not taking the extra week off.

5. Oakland put a smile on my face against the Baltimore Ravens. But if they are to be taken seriously as a play-off contender, then a home victory against the San Diego Chargers is a must. The Chargers have thrown away winning situations at Kansas City and last week at home to the Saints, so have the talent to win. That's why the Raiders need to stay focused.

You can listen to full commentary of the Buffalo Bills v LA Rams on the 5 Live NFL show on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra on Sunday 9 November at 19:30 BST.

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