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    Pittsburgh Steelers at Rams: Who has the edge?
    • October 21, 2023

    STEELERS (3-2) at RAMS (3-3)

    When: 1:05 p.m. Sunday

    Where: SoFi Stadium

    TV/Radio: FOX (Ch. 11)/710 AM; 93.1 FM; 1330 AM (Spanish); Sirius 226, 386

    Line: Rams by 3

    Notable injury designations

    Steelers: OUT: TE Pat Freiermuth (hamstring)

    Rams: OUT: RB Kyren Williams (ankle), DT Larrell Murchison (knee); QUESTIONABLE: LB Ernest Jones (knee), CB Derion Kendrick (personal), WR Ben Skowronek (Achilles)

    What’s at stake? Both teams are currently in the playoff hunt, projected entering Sunday to earn wild-card berths. When you’re a fringe playoff contender, you can’t afford many losses to non-elite teams. Whoever loses this game may rue the result if the standings are still looking tight in Weeks 16-18.

    Who’s better? The Rams. The Steelers’ offense has been a mess this year, with QB Kenny Pickett throwing five touchdowns to four interceptions, RB Najee Harris looking like a shell of himself and OC Matt Canada facing more questions than he appears to have answers for. Even without Williams, the Rams have the more balanced, effective unit. And though the Steelers’ defense may have more familiar names, from T.J. Watt to Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Rams are allowing 2.5 fewer points and 59.1 fewer yards per game.

    Matchup to watch: Rams WR Puka Nacua vs. Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr. Nacua, a fifth-round pick, and Porter, a second-rounder, have been among the two most successful rookies of the 2023 class through the first six weeks of the season. How much these two will line up against each other remains to be seen, because Rams receivers move all over the field. But it will be a good measuring stick for Nacua and Porter to see how they compare against the best of their rookie class.

    Rams win if: … WR Cooper Kupp catches 12 or more passes and acts as a de facto run game for the Rams down their top two backs. … They protect the ball and commit no more than one turnover against a greedy Steelers defense that forced three in a Week 5 win over Baltimore. …

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    Fantasy sleeper: RB Darrell Henderson is being promoted off the practice squad to the active roster after signing with the Rams just this week. But of all the Rams’ healthy RBs, he has the most experience in Sean McVay’s offense and McVay may turn to the familiar hand if the other backs start the game slowly.

    Prediction: Rams 20, Steelers 13. Beat reporter’s record: 4-2 for the season; 4-2 against the spread.

    ​ Orange County Register