Given that the Rams are 9-1 and favored to beat the 9-1 Chiefs on Monday night in a matchup of the two teams with the best records in the league, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the Rams’ defense has not been particularly good this year.
The Rams are allowing opposing runners to average 5.2 yards a carry, worst in the NFL. And the improvements the Rams made in the secondary during the offseason have turned out not to be improvements at all, with cornerback Marcus Peters struggling all season and cornerback Aqib Talib on injured reserve.
But there is one thing the Rams are doing well: Pressuring opposing passers.
According to Chris Trapasso of the Buffalo News, using data compiled by Pro Football Focus, the Rams are getting pressure on 41.6 percent of the passes they face this season, the best in the NFL. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Rams are getting a lot of sacks — they’re tied for 10th in the league with 26 sacks — but they are consistently hurrying opposing quarterbacks.
And that underscores just how disappointing the secondary has been. If the defensive front is hurrying the opposing quarterback, and the opposing quarterback is completing passes anyway, that doesn’t reflect well on the secondary.
Getting to Patrick Mahomes on Monday night will be important, but the rest of the defense has to do its job as well. Given the way both teams’ offenses and defenses have played this season, expect a shootout.