Although they had a relatively slow start, the Los Angeles Rams routed the Oakland Raiders on their way to a comfortable 33-13 win. Heading into week two the Rams are slated for a home-based matchup vs the division rival Arizona Cardinals.
The teams have a long history of playing each other as NFC West rivals, though things are expected to be different this year with the Cardinals employing a new Head Coach in Steve Wilks.
Let’s take a look at the matchups that may decide the game:
LT Andrew Whitworth vs OLB Chandler Jones
Chandler Jones is one hell of a football player. Matter of fact, he lead the league in sacks last year with 17. In two games vs the Rams last season, Jones registered two sacks (one in each contest). Andrew Whitworth is going to be the man responsible for blocking Jones more often than not, so he’ll need to build off of a tremendous game in Oakland and keep QB Jared Goff clean for a second straight game.
ILB Cory Littleton vs RB David Johnson
Cory Littleton had a solid but unspectacular debut at ILB for the Rams in week one. Littleton lead the team with 13 tackles. He also registered a gimme interception that was recklessly tossed up in the air by QB Derek Carr. David Johnson is one of the most dangerous RB’s in the league as there are no limitations to his game. Johnson has the power to run between the tackles, the speed to go outside, he can block, and arguably the best part of his game is his dangerous receiving ability. Littleton will be one of multiple guys responsible for slowing down Johnson.
KR/PR JoJo Natson vs P Andy Lee
Hell yeah I went there. The Rams have churned out multiple quality return men over the years in guys like Benny Cunningham and WR Pharoh Cooper. Cooper is going to be out at a minimum of eight weeks after being placed on I.R. and backup return man WR Mike Thomas has been ruled out too. Natson was just recently re-signed as he impressed as a return man in preseason. I predict he has at least one big punt return of at least 25 yards.
DT Aaron Donald vs LG Mike Iupati
Even though Aaron Donald might not have had the statistical output we all expected in week one, his fingerprints were all over the game. Donald had multiple rushes that impacted Derek Carr - including the Cory Littleton interception. He was facing two of the best guards in football in Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson and still made a major impact on the game. Not only that, but he did register a sack that was flagged for hitting Carr low. Now Donald gets Iupati - expect him to have an absolute field day with the immobile Sam Bradford.
QB Jared Goff vs Cardinals secondary
The main guy in the Cardinals secondary is obviously CB Patrick Peterson. Though he may not be targeted a ton, the battle between Peterson and Brandin Cooks/Robert Woods will be exciting. The remainder of the Cards secondary is the most interesting part: CB Jamar Taylor, and Safeties Antoine Bethea, Budda Baker, and Tre Boston. Jared Goff should look to target anyone not named Patrick Peterson - and if he can execute and fix the timing issues from week one, look for it to be a loooong day for the Cardinals secondary.
QB Nickell Robey-Coleman vs WR Larry Fitzgerald
NRC is the forgotten man in the Rams star-studded defense back, which is okay. Fitz is known to slide into the slot for majority of the game so NRC will get a handful of the first ballot hall-of-famer. The manner in which the Cards deploy Fitz is more of a safe option as opposed to a deep dangerous one, so expect him to have a few receptions regardless. Last season Fitz had a 13-127-1 line in two games against the Rams.
The Rams will open up at home vs the Cardinals who struggled all over the field vs the Washinton Redskins in week one.
Look for the Rams to start out quickly and get back on track in the passing game.