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The Philadelphia Eagles' recent struggles aren't providing any comfort to the Los Angeles Rams.The NFC West champions have a few problems of their own for perhaps the first time this season.With three losses in their past five games Limited Jermon Bushrod Jersey , the Eagles (6-7) are facing an uphill challenge just to earn the opportunity to defend their Super Bowl title in the playoffs. Their offense can't get rolling, the defense can't defend the pass, and quarterback Carson Wentz's fractured vertebra sits atop a bulging list of injury problems.But the Eagles' gritty performance in a 43-35 win at the Coliseum last season is still fresh in most football minds in Los Angeles. The Rams (11-2) would never take the champs lightly heading into the teams' Sunday night showdown."I still look at them like a Super Bowl-caliber team," Rams receiver Robert Woods said. "Still the defending champs. We get a chance to play them in prime time. We get to play at home. We get to play well and redeem ourselves from last week."The Rams can't spend any time thinking about the Eagles' woes, either. Los Angeles is coming off a dispiriting 15-6 loss in chilly Chicago during which it failed to score a touchdown for the first time in coach Sean McVay's tenure.McVay has never lost consecutive games, and no team has beaten the Rams twice during his two seasons 鈥?but Philadelphia has a chance to do both. The coach has no trouble getting his players' attention this week with the combination of their second loss and a visit from the champs.Wentz did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and on Saturday was declared out for the Rams game. Wentz's second NFL season ended at the Coliseum a year ago when he tore a ligament in his left knee, but Nick Foles relieved him and led the Eagles to that win over his former franchise, clinching the NFC East in the process.Along with his Super Bowl MVP award, Foles always has motivation against the Rams: He started 11 games for the team in St. Louis in 2015, but he asked to leave after the Rams drafted Jared Goff in the ensuing spring."Doesn't affect much, because Carson is a great football player, but they also were able to win a Super Bowl with Nick playing really high-level football," McVay said.More things to watch when Mike Trout's favorite team visits him in Southern California:DEFENDING HOMEA huge contingent of Eagles fans undoubtedly will turn out at the Coliseum, but the Rams are finally building a home-field advantage that everyone felt during their 54-51 win over the Chiefs last month. The Rams are 6-0 at the Coliseum this season after going 4-11 in their temporary arena during the first two years.HARD TO SUBOne of the overlooked challenges for defenses that have to face the Rams and their high-powered offense is the difficulty in trying to rotate defensive players into the game because Los Angeles uses the same personnel group 鈥?three receivers DeMario Davis Jersey , one tight end, one running back 鈥?almost the entire game."The Rams don't substitute very often," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "Even in short yardage and goal line, they're in the same personnel group. It does make it a little bit more difficult to sub. We're going to have to be surgical with our substitutions, particularly on third down."The Eagles struggled against the Saints, who also use an up-tempo offense. New Orleans beat Philadelphia 48-7 last month."We didn't react very well to it against the Saints. That had to do with a lot of the big plays we gave up in that game," Schwartz said. "But we have a little bit more experience with it now. We have to do better."GURLEY'S GAMETodd Gurley's 28 yards rushing in Chicago were his fewest since his rookie season in 2015, and Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott edged in front of him in the NFL rushing race . McVay blamed himself for not getting the ball into the hands of his franchise running back more often, and he seems determined to rectify that oversight.Rather than testing Fletcher Cox and the Eagles' statistically stout run defense, the Rams may be tempted to throw excessively against the Eagles' injury-riddled secondary, which likely means more targets for Gurley in the passing game.SPREADING IT AROUNDSince receiver Golden Tate arrived in Philadelphia, coaches have struggled to incorporate him into the offense. Tate only had one catch last week and played just 20 snaps.The offense has various options, including tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert and receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor.But the Eagles traded a third-round pick for Tate, so he was expected to be a major part of the game plan each week."It's just trying to find the right balance and get those guys in the right position so that they can make the plays we need to help us win Limited Vonn Bell Jersey ," offensive coordinator Mike Groh said.AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this report. Saints coach Sean Payton has seen plenty of road hazards in the nearly 13 years he's lived in New Orleans, a city where streets routinely crack and buckle atop the spongy landscape of drained swamp and marsh.That could explain the metaphor at the forefront of Payton's consciousness when he described how he sees Sunday's clash with the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams. Although the matchup between the Rams (8-0) and surging Saints (6-1) has the ingredients of a potential NFC title game preview, Payton suggested that he's better served by approaching the game in much the same way he drives around his adoptive home town."You see a team coming in here unbeaten, and you know they are in the NFC, and you recognize the significance of the game," Payton said. "But I look at it more from a team perspective. And I look at it more from, 'Man, this is the next challenge.'"So we just stare, in this city, at the pothole in front of us. That's the one we got to worry about. Not the ones that are there coming up beyond that," Payton continued. "And this one sits square in the middle of the street."Rams coach Sean McVay should take the pothole comparison as a compliment. It's clear the 54-year-old Payton admires what the Rams' 32-year-old, similarly offensive-minded head coach has accomplished in just his first season-and-a-half as a head coach."I am a huge fan of Sean's and I have gotten to know him and have a ton of respect for what he has done going on his second year," Payton said of McVay, adding that he "absolutely" makes a point of watching the Rams throughout the season."They're a must-watch team Authentic Thomas Morstead Jersey ," Payton said.The admiration is mutual when McVay discusses Payton's offense."I look at their tape every week, see what they're doing," McVay said. "I also appreciate the aggressive nature that coach Payton comes after people."That mindset of never being afraid to fail and always attacking is something that we try to do," McVay added. "It demonstrates a confidence and belief in your players."Some other story lines surrounding the Rams-Saints showdown, the winner of which will have the inside track to the No. 1 playoff seeding in the conference:COACH-QB COMBOSThe Saints have been among the NFL leaders in offense since Payton arrived in New Orleans and recruited then-free agent Drew Brees to join him in 2006.Currently, the Saints rank eighth in yards per game (389.9) and second in points per game (33.4). The Rams offense, with 2016 top overall draft choice Jared Goff under center, rank second in yards (442.6) and third in scoring (33).Each team's head coach-QB tandem mirror one another in that Payton and McVay both call offensive plays, putting a premium on their communication and relationship with their quarterbacks. The difference is that Payton and the 39-year-old Brees have been together far longer, and Brees has set prestigious NFL passing records ."Those guys are two of the best ever to do it together," the 24-year-old Goff said. "Me and Sean (McVay) have a great relationship, and hopefully it'll continue to grow."DEFENSIVE DISPARITYThe Rams already had the league's eighth-ranked defense before the addition of edge pass-rusher Dante Fowler at Tuesday's NFL trade deadline. In seven games with Jacksonville this season, Fowler's highlights included two sacks and a forced fumble. It's unclear how much he'll play right away, but is expected to rotate into the game on some passing downs."I don't really know how they're going to use him yet Trey Hendrickson Jersey , but I watched some film on him," Saints right tackle Ryan Ramczyk said. "He's a good athlete, a good player, so I'll be prepared."The Saints rank 23rd in total defense 鈥?28th against the pass 鈥?but have been opportunistic. Defensive back P.J. Williams' past outing in Minnesota was a case in point. He was beaten several times on Minnesota receptions, but also helped force a fumble that resulted in one TD and ran back an interception for a score.FULL KUPPThe Rams' biggest lineup addition this week might not be Fowler: They expect to have receiver Cooper Kupp back in uniform after a two-game absence with a knee injury.The second-year target's presence would be a boon for Goff, who found Kupp for a team-leading 869 yards receiving last season.GOFF'S RETURNGoff made his second career start at the Superdome in 2016. While those woebegone Rams were routed 49-21 , Goff emerged with the highest passer rating in any game of his rookie season, along with his first three NFL touchdown passes."It maybe gave me some confidence knowing that being in a hostile environment like that and being able to make plays was something that I saw myself do and was able to kind of grow from that experience," Goff said.Now a smooth leader of McVay's well-oiled offensive machine, Goff gets his chance to show the Superdome faithful what he has learned since.AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham in Thousand Oaks, California, contributed. Custom Buffalo Bills Jerseys
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