The Los Angeles Rams are heading into Week 5 on a three game win streak. They’ll face a Buffalo Bills team coming off what may end up being the most impressive win of the year; as they shutout the Patriots. There probably aren’t many that looked at the preseason schedule and figured this would be such an interesting game on paper coming into this match-up.
With so many story lines at play, what Rams players should we keep an eye on in this game? Who could play a huge role in the outcome?
- First, there’s the Rams’ WR tandem of Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin. Both have had good games thus far, though Britt has been better overall. But they’ve yet to perform well in the same game. For the offense to really reach it’s full potential, they’ll need to both get hot at the same time. This would cause a trickle down effect that can open up other areas of the playbook, and ultimately allow more explosive plays.
- QB Case Keenum is coming off of three strong outings. He hasn’t blown the roof off the place, but he’s been solid and has been really good on third down. In fact, he’s been, by far, his most accurate when third down comes. The Bills have a very young, but very good, secondary. Keenum will need to continue to play well on third down to keep the defense rested and fresh as they are currently banged up, and facing two electric players in QB Tyrod Taylor and RB Lesean McCoy.
- DT Aaron Donald will a lot of pressure on his shoulders with all the injuries. If DE Robert Quinn and DT Michael Brockers do not play, with DE William Hayes already all but confirmed to not play, Donald will be the only starter suiting up on the defensive line. The other linemen will surely look to him for guidance. However, the Bills will be highly likely to force extra attention on him with so many starters out. If ever there was a game for a back-up to make a name for himself this would be it. DEs Ethan Westbrooks and Matt Longacre, as well as DTs Dominique Easley and Cam Thomas will all get what might be their most reps of the season. And with Donald getting so much attention, they should be in position to succeed.
- CB Lamarcus Joyner will be targeted a lot in this game. Without WR Sammy Watkins, the Bills will look to throw to WR Robert Woods often. Woods plays from the slot a lot, meaning Joyner — more times than not — will be on their number one receiver. Thus far this season, Joyner has played really well. It looks as if he has turned a corner. He will need to continue that high level of play and take away their go-to option and force Taylor to hold onto the football.
- RB Todd Gurley has to get it going. He needs to run with more patience, and improve his vision. Oddly enough, the two go hand-in-hand. Patience allows you to see the field better, ultimately giving you better vision. The Ryan brothers are surely going to look to stop the run, but they are also likely thinking that they will not let Keenum play against them the same he has against other teams. Meaning they will mix it up quite a bit with stacked boxes and drops into coverage. This should provide Gurley with more opportunities to find running room than he has seen all season. He has to take advantage of these opportunities.