There’s still plenty to play for as the Los Angeles Rams prepare to face the San Francisco 49ers in the regular season finale. During their Week 7 matchup, the Rams faced turnover-prone 49ers QB C.J. Beathard and rolled to an easy 39-10 win. Is the Niners’ recent resurgence including a win over the Seattle Seahawks for real? Or will LA dominate again and rest some starters en route to the #2 seed in the NFC?
Here are five Rams who should play critical roles in Sunday’s matchup:
DT Aaron Donald
Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald is 3.5 sacks away from breaking Michael Strahan’s single season sack record. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll note that I believe the real record is 21.5.
One thing no one is discussing re: AD’s pursuit of the single season sack record: Strahan’s buddy Brett Favre laid down for him to give him the clinching sack. As far as I’m concerned, the record is 21.5.— Wagwan Shree Rajneesh (@hotdaddywags) December 26, 2018
Either way, SF QB Nick Mullens had better be ready for a Rambush (see what I did there?!), as Donald had 4 sacks the last time these two teams met. It’s simply must-see TV.
RB Todd Gurley / RB C.J. Anderson
Gurley says he wants to give it a go Sunday. I’d expect him to sit. If he doesn’t, it’ll be interesting to see how HC Sean McVay deploys his lead back and spells him with week 16 revelation Anderson. Either way, I’ll be watching to see if the game plan is once again run-heavy as the Rams fine-tune a more balanced attack heading into the postseason.
TE Gerald Everett
Young Gerald has seen his workload increase in recent weeks, including a few jet sweeps last week. McVay also tightened up his formations a bit, and ran more 2-TE sets, which allowed Everett to leak out for some easy check-down opportunities. Between YG and WR Josh Reynolds, the Rams have done a solid job of replacing some of WR Cooper Kupp’s production. I expect to see Everett have a day on Sunday, as the Rams tallied just 1 catch for -5 yards from TEs in their week 7 matchup. Will 49ers DC Robert Saleh be looking for him?
ILB Mark Barron
Barron is back. Fact or fiction?
I’d venture it’s somewhere in between, but on the whole the oft-injured Rams inside ‘backer has at least appeared more physical and to have regained some of his missing burst in the past few weeks. San Francisco will bring a mix of RB Jeff Wilson and RB Alfred Morris (presumably, as RB Matt Breida has been ruled out). Along with ILB Cory Littleton, Barron will need to make sound decisions in coverage, as San Francisco TE George Kittle is second only to Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce in receiving yards with a whopping 1,228.
CB Aqib Talib
Another Ram who looks to be regaining his form is Talib. Despite a shaky performance at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, Talib’s return has solidified the LA secondary. It’s nice to not bitch about CBs Marcus Peters, Troy Hill, and Sam Shields every week, isn’t it? I don’t have the numbers handy, but it’s clear the Rams pass defense is markedly improved when #21 plays. He may not yet be 100%, but look for him to help shut down a banged-up San Francisco receiving corps en route to a 13-3 campaign and the #2 seed in the NFC.