Heading into Week 8, the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals travel over international waters to London. The game has an interesting backstory as Head Coach Sean McVay will coach against a good friend and former Rams’ Assistant Wide Receivers Coach and Quarterbacks Coach in Zac Taylor, the head coach of the Bengals.
Let’s get into the matchups to watch:
RB Darrell Henderson versus Bengals’ front-seven
Some might question why Todd Gurley isn’t named here, and he could be, but I’d personally love to see a heavy dose of Henderson in this contest. Henderson is only averaging 3.9 yards-per-carry (YPC), but he looks explosive and decisive, and continues to become more comfortable by the week. Luckily for the Rams, the Bengals’ run defense is ranked 28th in DVOA and dead last in YPC allowed with 5.2. This is the perfect game for the Rams to satisfy Gurley — though not overuse him in a game they absolutely should win — and to build more comfort for Henderson.
TE Gerald Everett versus Bengals’ secondary
Everett leads all tight ends in targets since Week 4 with 34, converting 18 of those into receptions for 239 yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals’ pass defense is just as bad as their run defense as they rank 29th in pass defense DVOA and 27th in yards per pass attempt (YPA) allowed. Everett has developed into a featured offensive weapon for the Rams, and it shouldn’t slow down with this matchup in Week 8.
DT Geno Atkins versus Rams’ interior OL
Atkins hasn’t had the same impact he usually has, though he’s coming off a two-sack performance in Week 7 and will face the weakest part of the Rams’ offensive line as the interior trio has been lackluster all season. The trio of left guard David Edwards, center Brian Allen, and right guard Austin Blythe will have their hands full against one of the best defensive tackles in football.
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman versus WR Tyler Boyd
Boyd is just about the only weapon left on the Bengals, though it isn’t exactly clear whether Robey-Coleman or Jalen Ramsey will cover him. Boyd has 45 receptions for 471 yards and one touchdown on the season, doing most of his damage in the slot. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips allowed Ramsey to travel into the slot with Julio Jones in Week 7, so both cornerbacks could get some time covering the Bengals’ most potent threat.
EDGE Dante Fowler Jr. versus OT Andre Smith
Fowler is coming off the best game of his career with a three-sack performance in Week 7, and is slated to oppose a bad backup tackle in Smith who might start after a two-week absence. This one could get ugly for the Bengals, because their offensive line is absolutely putrid, and well, they’ll need to block players like Fowler and Aaron Donald.