This week’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Dallas Cowboys will give us fans a first real look at where this Rams team is at in terms of competitiveness. The Cowboys are the first of four 2016 playoff teams the Rams will face this year. I’m watching these Rams this week in hopes they show up in crunch time.
QB Jared Goff
Show time. The majority of the country will get to watch this game and we’ll all get to see if Goff can continue his red hot start to 2017. It’s not an easy matchup against the Cowboys but it’s certainly one where he’s in position to have a good day. The Cowboys secondary has a couple young players in CB Anthony Brown, S Byron Jones, and CB Jourdan Lewis that have seen a lot of targets. All three have had ups and downs to this point but its a group that I’d like to see Goff challenge. He’s shown he can make the ‘wow’ throw in 2017.
CB Trumaine Johnson
This is a game where Tru needs to play like a CB1 cover corner. I hope to see him shadow WR Dez Bryant all day and give him a physical battle to try and minimize Bryant’s impact. Johnson has flashed the ability in the past worthy of his franchise tag status and he’ll need to do it again. Bryant has owned the Rams in his 3 career games against them totaling 15 catches, 217 yards, and 3 TDs. If Tru can put Dez on ice, the Rams chances for a win get a huge boost.
DT Michael Brockers
Maybe one of the most important Rams for this Sunday. After suffering an ankle injury against San Francisco, Brockers seemed to be fine for practice by the end of the week. That’s huge because Brockers has been one of the top interior run defenders in the NFL in terms of run stop %. I have no faith in the Rams LB duo of Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron to crash down to force short yardage stops, so Brockers and his ability to push the pocket/penetrate the interior OL is pivotal for the Rams defense if they want to keep RB Ezekiel Elliott and the offense at bay.
WR Robert Woods
Woods made up for his penalties and poor play in week 2 with a 100+ yard game in week 3. Woods leads the Rams in targets of 20+ yards and could finally be finding his place in the Rams offense as an intermediate and deep threat himself. With Sammy Watkins clearing concussion protocol the Rams WR duo is one the Cowboys defense is going to have to watch out for. Woods is still without a TD on the season but drawing coverage against rookie CB Jourdan Lewis (battling hamstring injury) or veteran CB Nolan Carroll could be the perfect chance for Woods to get on the scoreboard. Robert Woods breakout game?
DE Aaron Donald
Games like these require teams best players to show up and show out no matter the competition. With 10 days of rest and two games under his belt, Aaron Donald should finally have all of the rust shaken off from his holdout. Whether he lines up on LT Tyron Smith or RT La’el Collins side of the offensive line, Donald needs to create the pressure we’re so often used to seeing from him. But he’ll also have to be stout against the run too for the same reasons I listed under Brockers. For Aaron Donald personally, this isn’t a make or break game but rather a “money game” and a chance to put a feather in his contract negotiating cap.