The St. Louis Rams are 2-0 heading into Green Bay this Sunday where the 4-0 Packers are hosting. The Rams play well against their own division, but this week could be a big win for the Rams heading into the bye week.
If the Rams are going to win this week, it will be up to these five players to come up big against the Packers.
C Tim Barnes
Barnes won the starting center battle during the preseason. It's a strong testament to the Rams' options since Barnes has barely been average through the first quarter of the season. An adequate pass blocker, Barnes is just a poor run blocker who does not consistently push the pile to create holes.
Against the San Francisco 49ers, the Packers used Clay Matthews to attack the A gap on passing plays. Against the Arizona Cardinals, the Rams were blitzed through the A gap at times and almost saw Nick Foles go down. Expect the Packers to do the same thing. Hopefully, the Rams have an answer this week.
DT Aaron Donald
The Rams' second year defensive tackle has been explosive and has begun the conquest to prove that he is the best defensive tackle in the National Football League. So far, Donald has 20 tackles and three and a half sacks.
Obviously, the Packers offensive line is not great, but damn if Aaron Rodgers is not. Even if Randall Cobb and Davante Adams play at less than 100% or rest for the game, Rodgers and that offense could still move the ball. The Rams will get pressure on the Packers on the outside, just like the 49ers did before them. The advantage that the Rams have is that Donald should be able to get into Rodgers face and with his athleticism should be able to bring Rodgers down.
RB Todd Gurley
Did you hear about the Rams first round pick Todd Gurley running for 100 plus yards against the Arizona Cardinals? Of course you did. All eyes will be on Gurley to either repeat his performance or get close to it again this week.
The Packers do not have the best defense in the league, but they have played real good run defense so far this season. They make it tough for running backs to get north and south. Gurley could have a tough time against the Packers who fill the gaps in the running game as well as they do, if he does not bounce a few of the runs to the outside. On the bright side, the Rams have practiced and suceeded a couple of times hitting the outside. If the Rams can keep the game close, Gurley could have another big day.
MLB James Laurinaitis
There is going to be a lot of pressure on the defensive leader's shoulders for the remainder of the season. Losing Alec Ogletree for an extended period means that the Rams will need James to make more plays, notably in the run game. This is familiar territory for the veteran linebacker having been the guy in the linebacker corps before Ogletree entered the picture.
It will be interesting to see how offenses tackle the Rams linebackers now that Ogletree is gone. Yes, we know the veteran linebacker will do his part in wrapping up ball carriers. Can he become more of an impact player? We will see starting this week.
WR Tavon Austin
This season, Austin appears to finally have found his role in the Rams offense. It looks like the key has been actually using him like an outside receiver...who knew it would be that easy? Okay, so Austin is also making plays by running the ball and returns, but getting the ball in the Rams' most electrifying player hands has made this offense play better.
It would be nice if the other receivers on the Rams roster show up, because all eyes will be on Austin this week. With the attention on Austin, it would be easy to expect one of the other receivers to up their production, however this is the Rams so we will see if any of the receivers will be productive. Regardless, Austin has been the most consistent player on the offense.