DENVER (4-10) at LOS ANGELES RAMS (4-10)
Sunday, 4:30 p.m. EST, CBS
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Broncos by 2 1/2.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Broncos 6-8; Rams 4-9-1.
SERIES RECORD: Rams lead 9-5.
LAST MEETING: Rams beat Broncos 23-20 on Oct. 14, 2018, in Denver.
LAST WEEK: Broncos beat Cardinals 24-15; Rams lost to Packers 24-12.
BRONCOS OFFENSE: OVERALL (27), RUSH (23), PASS (22), SCORING (32).
BRONCOS DEFENSE: OVERALL (5), RUSH (14), PASS (5T), SCORING (3).
RAMS OFFENSE: OVERALL (32), RUSH (30), PASS (25), SCORING (31).
RAMS DEFENSE: OVERALL (13), RUSH (4), PASS (21), SCORING (18).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Broncos plus-3; Rams minus-5.
BRONCOS PLAYER TO WATCH: DT DeShawn Williams had 3 1/2 sacks in his first 44 games, and now has 4 1/2 sacks in the past three games. It was a career performance for Williams against the Cardinals, getting 2 1/2 sacks, four quarterback hits and five tackles in 40 snaps. With the Rams set for more turnover on their offensive line, his run of disruption could continue another week.
RAMS PLAYER TO WATCH: DT Greg Gaines. Usually tasked with helping do the dirty work next to superstar DL Aaron Donald, the fourth-year player from Washington is showing he can be disruptive with Donald (ankle) out. Gaines had two tackles for loss at Green Bay, giving him a career-high six this season and he is one sack away from topping the 4 1/2 he had last year.
KEY MATCHUP: Broncos QB Russell Wilson vs. Rams OLB Leonard Floyd. Wilson has been sacked multiple times in every game this season, which has been attributed to both struggles in pass protection by the offensive line and his tendency to extend plays. After Wilson sat out against Arizona because of a concussion, Denver will have to put together a game plan that protects their $242 million man from Floyd, who had two sacks against the Packers for his third multi-sack showing.
KEY INJURIES: Wilson cleared concussion protocol last week, but was still held out of the win against Arizona. … RB Latavius Murphy is dealing with a foot injury coming off his 130-yard rushing effort. … The Rams are now down eight opening-night starters after C Brian Allen and WR Ben Skowronek each sustained season-ending calf strains on Monday night. … QB John Wolford (neck) remains out, leaving Bryce Perkins to back up Baker Mayfield.
SERIES NOTES: The Rams have won four straight in the series. … Denver has not faced the Rams in Southern California since Nov. 6, 1994, a 27-21 loss for the Broncos in Anaheim, Calif. … This will be the fifth Broncos-Rams game played in California, with the home team winning the past two matchups.
STATS AND STUFF: The Broncos have the best red zone defense in the NFL, allowing touchdowns on 37.5% of possessions (12 of 32). The Rams are second at 43.5% (20 of 46) . … Wilson needs 25 yards rushing to pass Randall Cunningham (4,928) for third most by a QB all time. Wilson has run for at least 25 yards in nine of 20 regular-season games versus Los Angeles. … Out of Wilson’s 303 touchdown passes, 26 have come against the Rams. He has thrown multiple touchdowns against them seven times. … Denver is playing on Christmas Day for the fourth time, all of which have been road games. They have a 2-1 record on the holiday. … The Broncos are forcing three-and-outs on 29.9% of opponent’s possessions, which leads the league. … The Rams are the 17th team to miss the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl the previous season. They are the second team to have double-digit losses, joining the 1999 Broncos, who went 6-10 following the retirement of QB John Elway. … With Allen out, Coleman Shelton will take over at center. Matt Skura is set to play left guard and Oday Aboushi slotted for right guard. The changes come after the Rams finally started the same offensive line in consecutive weeks for the first time this season, only for Allen to get hurt two plays into the loss at Green Bay. … Los Angeles ranks second in penalties committed (67), trailing only Atlanta (56). The Rams were flagged eight times for 76 yards against the Packers, setting season highs in both categories. … LB Bobby Wagner is tied with Donnie Edwards for ninth in career tackles. Edwards had 1,501 in 13 seasons with the Chiefs and Chargers. … CB Jalen Ramsey has defended 11 passes this season, his fifth season reaching double figures.
FANTASY TIP: Nobody could have reached the fantasy playoffs relying on the disappointing returns from Broncos and Rams’ skill players, but Denver K Brandon McManus and Los Angeles’ Matt Gay might be worth using if available. McManus is 7 of 12 from 50-plus yards this season, Gay 5 of 7, and SoFi Stadium is a sneaky great venue for kickers in what should be a grind-it-out matchup.
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