Week 6 finds the Los Angeles Rams heading to Denver with sub-freezing temperatures and snow expected at Mile High Stadium. The Rams are coming off a narrow 33-31 escape at division rival Seattle in Week 5 while the Denver Broncos got their asses handed to them by the New York Jets, 34-16, allowing 323 rushing yards in the process.
In a game where altitude and the elements figure to play a significant role, here are five Rams who will need to heat up to beat the Denver deep freeze.
CB Marcus Peters
Peters’ performance in Seattle left a lot to be desired. While questions remain about his strained calf, his gambling tendencies were exposed, as he was officially dinged for all three Russell Wilson passing TDs. Injured or not, his eyes were in the Seattle backfield and not on his man, and when they were, he was flagged for holding twice.
To his credit, he’s owning it:
#Rams Marcus Peters is not using his injury as an excuse for his play last week: "I feel hella good. Coach wouldn't have let me go out there and play if I didn't feel good. I feel 100 percent." On the TD pass he gave up to Lockett: "I got beat. I gotta keep my eyes on there."— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) October 10, 2018
Despite his obvious playmaking skills, Peters’ reputation as a “win some / lose some” CB a la Janoris Jenkins was on full display. At less than 100%, he lost a lot more than he won. Let’s hope his familiarity with Denver WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders helps him get back on track Sunday, or the Rams could be in for another shootout.
WR Cooper Kupp & WR Brandin Cooks
I know, 2-for-1 is a cop out, but these guys deserve to be mentioned here as they both missed practice on Wednesday while working through the concussion protocol. Kupp’s injury was apparently from hitting his head on the turf, whereas Cooks’ was downright scary as he appeared to be knocked out cold from a questionable hit by Seattle S Tedric Thompson. As of this writing, it looks like the Rams have a good chance at returning both players for Sunday’s game, which will sure make life easier for Jared Goff against the Broncos’ middle-of-the-road pass D. (Note: If either of these guys can’t go, WR Josh Reynolds would vault to the top of this list)
RB Todd Gurley
As previously noted, Denver allowed 323 yards on the ground last week against Jets RBs Isiah Crowell and Bilal Powell. Is this finally the week Todd Gurley busts a long one?! A glorious flurry of snow and dreadlocks and Denver defenders flopping around like creamsicles?! Let’s hope so. He’s a safe bet to find the end zone a few times here, but I’m personally looking for Gurley to have one of those truly dominant games in terms of yards from scrimmage. In inclement weather, and facing the league’s 30th ranked rush defense, he very well could.
CB Troy Hill
A surprise starter ahead of CB Sam Shields last week, 4th-year reserve CB Troy Hill performed admirably in Seattle as his 80.1 ranking by PFF was the highest of all Rams’ DBs. Now, as we all know, PFF rankings can be a tad misleading — this is likely more the result of Seattle’s penchant for throwing at Marcus Peters than anything Hill did or didn’t do. One thing he can’t do this week is body-slam a receiver for a bonehead personal foul call. Still, if Hill can contain WR Emmanuel Sanders (which is a tall order), he can contribute positively to Peters’ risk/reward ratio — and force Case Keenum and company into a more one-dimensional gameplan.
DL Michael Brockers
Much has been made of the Rams’ iffy 18th-ranked rush defense, yet most of the finger pointing has been aimed at Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and our LB corps. Not sure why Brockers is getting a pass here. The 7th-year pro is pacing slightly behind last year’s career high of 54 total tackles, and has tallied one sack on the season. He’s been solid thus far, but hasn’t made many splash plays — I expected him to be the biggest beneficiary of the Donald/Suh tandem, and that simply hasn’t been the case. If the Rams are to contain Denver RBs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman on Sunday, a big day for big Brock would sure help.