The Los Angeles Rams will head to London after spending the week in Jacksonville looking to extend their NFC West lead as they square off with the Arizona Cardinals. After facing two of the NFL’s best secondaries, Jared Goff and the Rams offense now get a Cardinals pass defense that is struggling to stop teams. Here’s my 5 Rams to watch.
FS Lamarcus Joyner
Lamarcus has been on the shelf since suffering a hamstring injury during the game in San Francisco but should be returning this week in what will be a huge boost for the Rams defense. Cody Davis has filled about as well as you could ask from a rotation player but with Joyner back, it allows the defense flexibility in covering the slots. It will be something to watch on how Joyner and new starting SS John Johnson work together as they’ve yet to get any sort of game experience together.
RB Todd Gurley
Gurley got back on track against the Jaguars struggling run defense last week as he dumped in 116 yards rushing and got his season total up to 521 yards. You may remember that Gurley’s first breakout game in the NFL came against Arizona back in Week 4 of 2015. Gurley has not been able to build off his hot start as a receiver these past two weeks and gets another tough defense vs RBs. Even though the Cardinals struggle agains the pass and remain strong against the run, McVay can’t let the game plan get away from him again and keep Gurley’s touches upwards of 20.
EDGE Connor Barwin
Barwin is settling into the Rams defense after a shaky start in run support to begin the season. Now Barwin finds himself tied with Matt Longacre for the team lead in sacks with 3.0 and now gets an offense that is allowing the 3rd most sacks in the NFL. With the addition of Adrian Peterson, the Cardinals don’t have to lean on the pass as much and figure to try and take advantage of the Rams sloppy run defense. Currently, the Arizona offense is dead last in rushing yards so we’ll soon find out if Peterson is actually back. Could be a chance for Barwin to shine.
WR Tavon Austin
Wait wut? Austin has been a total non factor in the passing game this season catching just 5 passes for 19 yards but gets a shot at a soft pass defense. I expect the Rams offense to try and keep this game simple for Jared Goff and that’s all Tavon can really do is a simple few plays. I anticipate that Austin will have nearly 10 touches this game with chances to make an impact going up against Tyrann Mathieu and Deone Bucannon, whether it be his patented end arounds or working the slot. The most complete receiving game of Austin’s career happened against Arizona just two years ago when he put up 6 catches for 96 yards and 2 TDs. This is a rare opportunity I’m putting faith in Tavon. Shouts out to Bate.
DE Aaron Donald
For many of the same reasons I listed for Barwin, I think Donald will have huge game on the stat sheet. Arizona is just simply not good enough up front to contain Donald. The only thing that has really been missing from Aaron’s game this year are the sack totals but he’s absolutely still a dominant force. This could be Donald’s best game yet on the season, which seems absurd.