The Rams run a base 3-4 defense with Dante Fowler alternating between putting a hand on the ground, and standing up. The opening play v. the Saints Fowler was on the weak side shading the outside shoulder of the right tackle with a hand in the dirt. The Rams had a 33 personnel grouping, lined up in a 4-2-5 look with Nickell Robey-Coleman on the field playing in a Nickel Back role.
Q1 1st & 10 15:00 33 Personnel, 4-2-5 look with Robey-Coleman in the Nickel v 11 Personnel (1 back, 1 TE).
You should expect to see a similar 33, or 42 front v. the Patriots who run a lot of 11 personnel out of the gun with Gronkowski either on the line of scrimmage, or flexed out wide.
Q1 3rd down & 7 at the KC 30 08:43 11 (1 back, 2 TE) Personnel with Gronkowski Flexed wide.
Rams defense defending the run v. big formations
The Patriots offense has been very physical at the point of attack early in the playoffs. I don't expect anything to change on Sunday v. the Rams who have had their fair share of problems v. the run this season giving up 5.1 yards per attempt. Lets take a look at how the Rams faced a stout rushing attack that uses a 21, or 22 Personnel.
In the below screen shot the Seahawk's opened the game with 21 personnel. The Rams opened with a 34 look with LB's Samson Ebukam and Matt Longacre on the field as opposed to the above screenshot where the defense is in a 4-2 look with Robey-Coleman on the field in the Nickel.
Q1 1st & 10 at the Sea 25, 34 Personnel v. 21 Personnel (2 backs, 1 TE).
The Seahawk's rushed for 275 yards in this game with the 99 of their 275 rush yards accumulated right up the middle.
Here is a similar look to the Seahawk's above. The Patriots opened the game v. the Chiefs last week in 21 Personnel and the result was an 11 yard gain for Sony Michel.
Q1 1st & 10 at NE 20 14:55, 21 personnel (2 backs, 1 TE) v. 34 Personnel.
You have to expect that the Patriots will use 11 Personnel whether they are under center or in the gun. The Patriots are an excellent run blocking team, and the chess match will be all about the personnel. The Patriots can exploit the Rams run defense by forcing them into their nickel defense leaving Robey-Coleman on the field. The advantage for the Patriots in this game will be Gronks blocking ability at the line of scrimmage and a numbers advantage in the run game when the Rams are in their Nickel defense.
The Rams will have to pick their poison in this game. I expect the Rams to play more man on the outside receivers with some type of combo, or bracket coverage against Edelman. This leaves Gronk with some one on one matchups with a SS, or a LB depending on the WR alignment. This also leaves the Rams front vulnerable on draws, and screen plays.
The Patriots gameplan should not change much from the last two weeks with the exception of personnel. I expect that McDaniel's will mix up the 11, 21 personnel to get the Rams into a Nickel where they can take advantage of their poor rush defense though the middle.