There is no mystery when the tape goes on and teams watch their opponent in preparation for that week's game.
So it is that the Rams will face a team as physical as there is in the NFL when they travel to San Francisco Sunday. The 49ers have won 11 consecutive division games at home, and this season in two division wins over Seattle (home) and Arizona (road) they have allowed a total of nine points.
When offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was asked if he talks to the players about how difficult it will be to face a defense like the 49ers, he said, "Sure. You, obviously, point out the stats. You show them the stats - they're No. 2 in the league in third down, they're No. 1 in points scored. We're not going to lie to our guys. Are the beatable? Sure, they're beatable. But, we're going to have to play very, very well as a team.
"Again, we're up front with them. There's no secrets when you watch the film because the film jumps off how physical they are. They do a great job. Again, we know what we're getting ready for."
Said quarterback Sam Bradford, "There's no doubt that they're good. 'Schotty' told us this morning that they're top five in almost every major category on defense, and it shows up on the film. I think the biggest thing for us, though, is not to beat ourselves. Looking at some film last week during the bye, I think one of our biggest problems is shooting ourselves in the foot, killing ourselves with mental mistakes and things that we can control. Instead of getting focused on them, it's going to be big for us just to play our game and not kill ourselves this week."
Of course, the reality is that teams as physical and talented as the 49ers often force those mistakes. They returned all 11 starters this season, and for the second consecutive season, injuries have not been a factor.
"It's a credit to that team, that organization," Schottenheimer said. "Obviously, they drafted really, really well. They've developed guys really, really well. They play hard. They play physical. They've been fortunate to, obviously, stay healthy. You can see in their play that they have a great feel for one another, what they're doing.
"Again, I think, that's where everybody in the league's trying to get to, where you have a group, a nucleus of guys that play together for a long time. They're obviously playing at a high level and it'll be a great challenge. Again, playing them there on the road will add some difficulty to it."
Bradford said a game like this can show a team very quickly where they are in their development. He said, "I think everyone on our offense is excited for the challenge. Any time you get to play a defense like this, it really kind of allows yourself to see where you're at. We know that we need a great week of preparation if we're going to go out and succeed on Sunday. I think everyone's excited about the opportunity that we have to go and play one of the best defenses on Sunday."