The Los Angeles Rams will have an opportunity to seize an early lead in the NFC West on Sunday. They already have a game on the Seahawks and could greatly improve their stature in the division by taking down the rival Cardinals in Arizona on Sunday.
Given that the 49ers look like they're heading for another top-10 draft pick, a road win against a stumbling Arizona squad would be huge.
Here are the Rams that need to have good performances if they are going to seize the division at the quarter mark of the 2016 campaign.
This is the obvious choice for the Rams, but I couldn't leave Keenum out of this conversation. The Cardinals defense was one of the best in the NFL not all that long ago. They boast a very talented pair of DEs (more on that in a second) and another pair of studs in the secondary with Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson.
Given the Rams lack of efficiency in the pass game thus far in 2016, it's easy to predict the Cardinals loading up to stop Todd Gurley and the run game. If the Rams are going to pull off another road upset, Keenum is going to have to make some plays.
OTs Greg Robinson and Rob Havenstein
Robinson is still fighting to live up to his lofty draft status and Havenstein still seems less than 100%. The Cardinals traded for DE Chandler Jones to pair with Calias Campbell this offseason. The Rams OTs are going to have their hands full.
DE Robert Quinn
Quinn has re-emerged as a top-tier pass rusher following an injury plagued 2015 season. He's had a lot of success against the Cardinals in the past. I'd expect that to continue this weekend as he lines up against Jared Veldheer.
CB E.J. Gaines
Gaines injury concerns are well known at this point, so I'll refrain from detailing them here. Coty Sensabaugh has been a failure filling in and Troy Hill has been inconsistent in coverage. Having Gaines back in the lineup should help the Rams secondary from hemorrhaging 400+ yards again.
K Greg Zuerlein
Until the Rams show that they can score with any regularity on offense, Zuerlein is going to be a key player. It's as simple as that.