The St. Louis Rams throw open the doors of the Edward Jones Dome this weekend to mustachioed fans there to celebrate the regular season debut of the Jeff Fisher era. Of course, on top of the fake facial hair and healthier concession stand options, there is an actual game taking place, what could be a pretty damn good one too.
Let's take a look at the most important matchups of the game.
James Laurinaitis Vs. RGIII
Let me explain, because JL might not actually be in too many physical one-on-one matchups with Washington's quarterback. He will, as the captain of the defense, be responsible for keeping his unit from biting on misdirections and RGIII's ability to run a read offense that can go with any number of plays once the ball is snapped.
Here's assistant head coach Dave McGinnis on RGIII:
" ... what I was impressed with was his command of the offense, his command of the game, the way he was able to maintain his composure during the game. He made a couple of plays where he was scrambling, looked down field, stayed composed. It was a very impressive performance. It's a real handful with their offense and of course (Redskins head coach) Mike Shanahan has always been one of the most innovative offensive coaches in this league. I've gone against him a lot of times. He's extremely innovative. It's a huge challenge and then, of course, what the young quarterback gives them is a lot of athleticism, but also a lot of composure for a young guy."
Janoris Jenkins Vs. Pierre Garcon
I doubt that Jenkins will be primarily on Garcon, but I think his speed and burst might be the best way to contain him.
Check out what Fisher had to say about Garcon, who the Rams tried to get in free agency:
"He's really explosive. He's a strong receiver with great speed. He's very instinctive and catches the ball well. I saw him, I got used to seeing him for a couple years there with the Colts and he's a big play guy. So we obviously had interest in him. Washington was able to get him under contract right as free agency started."
Steven Jackson Vs. London Fletcher
Rams fans obviously know both these guys pretty well. Fletcher is kind of the poor man's Ray Lewis, but more so because he doesn't get the headlines the neighbor in Baltimore does. Washington has an outstanding group of linebackers with London in the middle. Running the ball, which the Rams plan to do early and often, will hinge on getting through their defensive line and keeping Fletcher boxed out of the play.
Steven Jackson knows Fletcher pretty well himself:
"He's actually one of my favorite all-time linebackers to pair up against, to go against. 15 years now and still counting, he looks really good. He's running down the field with tight ends, matched up on running backs out of the backfield. It's a fountain of youth up there in the D.C. area between him and (Ravens LB) Ray (Lewis)."
I assume that Saffold will play this weekend since he was a full go in practice on Thursday. We'll see what Friday's injury report has to say. Orakpo got the best of Saffold last season when these two teams met, and you can expect to see additional blockers beyond the starting five linemen.
Schottenheimer commented on Saffold's redoubled focus this season.
"I'll tell you what: he looks good. I think Rodger's a pro and obviously, extremely talented. He played very, very well in that game and we'll see how that whole thing plays out."
Tell us what other matchups you'll be watching.