Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams

Broncos can’t get into a shootout with the Rams

The Denver Broncos are reeling, and now they’ll welcome the 5-0 Los Angeles Rams to town in Week 6.

The Los Angeles Rams stayed undefeated in Week 5, with a 33-31 win on the road over the Seattle Seahawks. Now they’ll go into another tough road environment in Week 6, as the 2-3 Denver Broncos will try to end a three-game losing streak and regroup after a 34-16 loss to the New York Jets last week.

Broncos head coach Vance Joseph has hinted at some changes, which automatically puts quarterback Case Keenum on the hot seat this week against one of his former teams. Another loss, or a particularly bad loss with a dismal performance from Keenum, will bring calls for Chad Kelly to take over.

The Rams had wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp both leave last week’s game with concussions, but at mid-week head coach Sean McVay was optimistic they would play Sunday. Even possibly without their top two wide receivers, the league’s No.1 offense (468.4 yards per game) is dangerous led by running back Todd Gurley.

Last week, shy of getting into a back-and-forth shootout like the Minnesota Vikings did in Week 4, the Seahawks provided a formula for staying competitive with the Rams. They rushed for 190 yards on 32 attempts, with Chris Carson and Mike Davis combining for 184 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. The time of possession split was almost equal, and the Broncos need to do something similar this week.

The rookie running back tandem of Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay is leading the league’s No. 3 rushing attack, and the Broncos lead the league in yards per carry (5.6). Even Devontae Booker has contributed some, with five receptions in two of the last three games.

Keenum has already thrown as many interceptions (seven) as he did all of last year with the Minnesota Vikings. He has take care of the ball better starting this week, as the Rams offense doesn’t need extra opportunities against a Denver defense that has not been as dominant as it has been in recent years.

The Rams have been vulnerable against the run, allowing 106.8 yards per game (tied for 19th in the league) through five weeks. The Broncos are well-equipped to take advantage of that, and keeping the ball on the ground is a far better plan than letting Keenum cut it loose from the start on Sunday in a preemptive effort to keep pace with the Rams’ offense.

Home field will help the Broncos on Sunday as they try to take the Rams out of the ranks of the unbeaten. It’s worth noting they held Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense in check for three quarters back in Week 4, before ceding a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.

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This game has one of the widest range of outcomes on the Week 6 NFL slate. The Broncos could keep it close, using their running game to keep the chains and the clock moving with the Rams possibly a little short-handed offensively. Or it could get out of hand quickly, and the Broncos will have a new starting quarterback in Week 7.

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