When a pair of teams with losing records meet the week before Thanksgiving, it's safe to say each will have some holes to exploit in their opponent's game. That will certainly be the case Sunday when the St. Louis Rams visit M&T Bank Stadium. Here are five stats that stand out, including notes on the Rams defense against tight ends, the lack of returns allowed by the Ravens and more.
50: The Rams have allowed 50 receptions by opposing tight ends this season, eighth most in the NFL, representing one of the only weak spots in their pass defense. Opposing tight ends have scored three times against the Rams and compiled 540 receiving yards, which could play into the Ravens' strengths. The tight end trio of Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle was featured prominently in the first game after the bye week, and could see plenty more action and targets going forward. The Rams don't have much of a track record of stopping their ilk.
25: Between 38 punts by Sam Koch and 47 kickoffs by Justin Tucker, just 19 have been returnable. Whether it's directional kicking from Koch or big boots for touchbacks by Tucker, only one team (Dallas, with 20) has allowed fewer returns this season than the Ravens. That will be crucial Sunday in keeping former Dunbar star and electric return man Tavon Austin, plus teammate Benny Cunningham, from getting the ball in space in the return game. Austin has a 75-yard touchdown to his credit as a punt returner, and has averaged 9.4 yards on 19 punt returns. The Ravens, have held opponents to 5.7 yards per punt return.
28.8: According to Football Outsiders, the Rams go three-and-out on 28.8 percent of their offensive drives, the second-highest rate in the NFL. That essentially means that one of every four drives they have likely won't go anywhere, but three-and-outs against the Ravens are rare. The Ravens force three-and-outs on 19.4 percent of opponents' drives. Six teams in the league have forced fewer. Something will have to give Sunday, with whoever bucks their own personal trend likely getting the better of the day's action.
4: Of the four starters on the Rams defensive line, four are first-round NFL draft picks and reserve defensive tackle Nick Fairley was a fifth-round pick. It's a pedigree that many teams, including the Ravens, likely envy, but it hasn't paid off much for St. Louis in the short-term. The group has 15 sacks, but the Rams rushing defense is 17th in the league, allowing 109.4 yards per game. In an effort to neutralize those defensive line stars, the Ravens might try to wear them down in the run game early.
1,219: The Ravens defense has allowed 2,594 passing yards, but when dividing the field into thirds (left, middle, and right), 1,219 yards have come to the offense's right side (defense's left). That's a pretty big soft spot, and no team in the NFL allows more production on a per-play basis to one portion of the field than the Ravens do to that third of the field, according to Football Outsiders. It just goes to show that the revolving door of Lardarius Webb, Shareece Wright, Kyle Arrington and everyone else the Ravens have lined up opposite Jimmy Smith have been easy pickings for opposing offenses. St. Louis' new quarterback, Case Keenum, would do well to take note.