Rams at Detroit Lions: Who has the edge in the NFC wild-card game?

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Rams (10-7) at Lions (12-5)

When: 5 p.m. PT Sunday

Where: Ford Field, Detroit

TV/Radio: NBC/710 AM; 93.1 FM; 1330 AM (Spanish); Sirius 228, 225

Line: Lions by 3

Notable injury designations

Rams: QUESTIONABLE: S Jordan Fuller (ankle), RG Kevin Dotson (shoulder), TE Tyler Higbee (shoulder), OL Joe Noteboom (foot), NT Bobby Brown III (illness), LB Troy Reeder (knee).

Lions: OUT: WR Kalif Raymond (knee), CB Jerry Jacobs (thigh/knee), LB James Houston (ankle), TE James Mitchell (hand); QUESTIONABLE: TE Sam LaPorta (knee), DE John Cominsky (illness).

What’s at stake? It’s opening weekend of the playoffs: Loser goes home, winner continues on to the divisional round with the dream of a Super Bowl still alive. There are some legacy questions on the line between Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford returning to Detroit and Rams head coach Sean McVay and Lions quarterback Jared Goff facing off three years after Goff was traded from the Rams. But it’s the playoffs. Nothing else matters.

Who’s better? The Rams are entering the playoffs as hot as any team in the league, while the Lions have been one of the most consistent performers in the league, so it’s a pretty even pairing. But the Rams do match up well with the Lions in certain areas. The Rams are fourth in red-zone scoring rate this season (63.64%), while the Lions are 29th in red-zone defense (66.04%). The Rams are fourth in fourth-down conversion rate (61.90%), and the Lions are 27th in fourth-down defense (57.69%). Those two areas could be critical to this game given the Rams’ struggles in the kick game this year.

Matchup to watch: Stafford vs. Goff. No, quarterbacks don’t step foot on the field at the same time. But this is a matchup between quarterbacks traded for each other, and the first playoff showdown between quarterbacks facing their former teams. The outcome will further shape the narrative of a trade that has already changed the fates of both franchises for the better, and will be heavily dissected.

Rams win if: They withstand the noise early in the game and finish the first quarter tied or with a lead to take a little air out of the Detroit crowd. … The Rams’ special teams doesn’t give up any big plays, especially against a Lions team that loves a good fake punt. … The Rams put pressure on Goff and record at least four sacks.

Fantasy sleeper: RB Kyren Williams. Yes, Williams was the second-highest scorer at running back in half-PPR formats this season, all while missing four games. But the Lions defense is No. 2 in the NFL this season in limiting opponents to 88.8 rushing yards per game this season. The Rams know the run game is a key ingredient in their offense and will likely get creative to find ways to utilize Williams on Sunday.

Prediction: Rams 31, Lions 24. Beat reporter’s record: 10-4 for the season; 8-6 against the spread.



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