Toronto Star

Patriots aim to copy last game vs. Rams


The last time the Patriots and Rams met, it was in Atlanta for the NFL title. A whole lot has changed since.

Los Angeles responded to its loss in that Super Bowl with a mediocre 2019 season, failing to return to the playoffs. New England got there last year, lost in the wild-card round after a lateseason slump, and now is recognizin­g how much Tom Brady was responsibl­e for that dynastic run.

This season, the Rams (8-4) are tied for the lead in the NFC West and the Patriots (6-6) have climbed to .500. When they face off Thursday night, the Rams, ranked sixth in the AP Pro32, will be five-point favourites over the No. 17 Patriots.

“What we do over the next 3 1⁄

2 days is going to be indicative of the position we put ourselves in to have success,” Rams coach Sean McVay says.

LA’s defence can do plenty of harm, and New England — despite 45 points against the woeful Chargers last Sunday in the same building, SoFi Stadium — tends to struggle with the ball, especially in the passing game.

“They’re obviously a very good defence,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick says. “They’re at the top of the league in almost every category. They’re hard to move the ball against. They make you earn everything. They don’t make many mistakes. There’s no easy plays.”

Pick: Rams, 21-17


No. 2 New Orleans (minus 7) at No. 27 Philadelph­ia: Jalen Hurts might give Philly a spark, but not enough against the NFC’s top squad.

Best bet: Saints, 27-15

No. 15 Arizona (minus 3) at No. 18 New York Giants: The Giants are rolling, the Cardinals are reeling.

Upset special: Giants, 20-17

No. 3 Pittsburgh (plus 2 1-2) at No. 5 Buffalo: Buffalo could establish itself as a Super Bowl contender here.

Pick: Steelers, 28-27

No. 4 Green Bay (minus 7) at No. 25 Detroit: The Packers can clinch the NFC North, and should do so emphatical­ly.

Pick: Packers, 37-20

No. 1 Kansas City (minus 7) at No. 12 Miami: The Dolphins would take a huge step toward the post-season with a win. Sorry.

Pick: Chiefs, 27-17

No. 32 New York Jets (plus 13) at No. 8 Seattle: New York has learned that Cover Zero means zero coverage deep.

Pick: Seahawks, 31-13

No. 16 Minnesota (plus 6 1⁄2)

at No. 11 Tampa Bay: Tampa needs a bit of a turnaround and this is a good spot for it.

Pick: Buccaneers, 30-20

No. 20 San Francisco (minus 3) vs. No. 19 Washington at Glendale, Arizona: Ron Rivera will keep Washington grounded after its huge upset at Pittsburgh.

Pick: 49ers, 20-19

No. 9 Tennessee (minus 7 1⁄2)

at No. 31 Jacksonvil­le: The Titans get the right tonic after their distressin­g performanc­e against Cleveland.

Pick: Titans, 24-19

No. 10 Indianapol­is (minus 2 1⁄2)

at No. 14 Las Vegas: After their lucky escape at the Meadowland­s, how will the Raiders react?

Pick: Raiders, 23-21

No. 23 Atlanta (minus 2 1⁄2) at No. 28 Los Angeles Chargers:

We can’t find anything good to say about the Chargers right now.

Pick: Falcons, 35-25

No. 29 Dallas (minus 3 1⁄2)

at No. 30 Cincinnati: Nor can we find anything good to say about either of these teams.

Pick: Cowboys, 27-20

No. 21 Houston (minus 1 1⁄2)

at No. 26 Chicago: Nor these two highly disappoint­ing squads.

Pick: Texans, 20-10

No. 24 Denver (OFF) at No. 22 Carolina: The Panthers come off a bye while the Broncos come off a physical test against KC.

Pick: Panthers, 24-18


No. 13 Baltimore (minus 1) at No. 7 Cleveland: We thought about this for Upset Special, too. Pick: Browns, 26-20


Last Week: Straight up: 12-3. Against spread: 10-5 Season: Straight up: 129-62-1. Against spread: 98-81-4

 ?? ASHLEY LANDIS THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO ?? New England Patriots quarterbac­k Cam Newton will be in tough against the Los Angeles Rams’ stingy defence Thursday night.
ASHLEY LANDIS THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO New England Patriots quarterbac­k Cam Newton will be in tough against the Los Angeles Rams’ stingy defence Thursday night.

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