As each week passes and the Rams fall further out of playoff contention, it can be hard to find reasons to care about the rest of the league. As usual, I’ve compiled a game by game analysis of what to watch for either as a Rams fan or just as an NFL fan in general. Should be a good week of football and Thanksgiving always signifies the start of the playoff hunt and things will soon begin to take shape.
The first game of the Thanksgiving slate matches Josh Allen’s Bills against the former Ram Jared Goff and the Lions who are enjoying the Rams losing streak more than any team in the NFL. The Lions are riding a three game win streak and the Bills are looking to make headway in the tightest division, the AFC East. Former Rams to watch: EDGE Von Miller, G Rodger Saffold of the Bills and QB Jared Goff, WR Josh Reynolds, DT Michael Brockers of the Lions.
Game two of the holiday matches up two divisional rivals battling for the top spot. The Giants have come down to earth in recent weeks while the Cowboys are coming off a blowout against the Vikings. It’s been fun to watch Micah Parsons wreck games and Tony Pollard blossom into the RB Rams fans wish his college teammate Darrell Henderson turned out to be. Former Rams to watch: S Terrell Burgess of the Giants and EDGE Dante Fowler Jr of the Cowboys.
The Patriots have become stale on offense behind the leadership of Mac Jones but are still very much alive in the divisional race. Meanwhile, the Vikings got their doors blown off last week by the aforementioned Cowboys. This is a matchup that should be close for the majority of the game and one I wouldn’t betting on. Former Rams to watch: TE Johnny Mundt of the Vikings.
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers have discovered a resurgence in recent weeks and look to keep the winning going coming out of their bye. Rookie RB Rachaad White seems to have seized the starting role and is a player to keep eyes on. On the other side, the Browns have failed to stay afloat until Deshaun Watson returns and have close to no chance at making a playoff push. There aren’t any former Rams playing in this one.
Joe Burrow has been bombs away even without Ja’Marr Chase and will need to be on point to take down a tough Titans team led by workhorse Derrick Henry. I’m interested to watch the development of WR Treylon Burks who had his best game as a Titan last week. Keep an eye on Joe Mixon who may miss this one. Former Rams to watch: WR Robert Woods of the Titans.
The Houston Texans own the worst record in football and look to play the upset berserker role against the Dolphins. There’s also been talk of pulling the plug on the Davis Mills experiment. NFL fans should have an eye on the Dolphins as they’ve consistently been fun to watch on offense and are locked in that tight AFC East race. Former Rams to watch: WR Brandin Cooks of the Texans.
The biggest questions looming over this game are both QB related. Will Justin Fields play or have to sit out due to that shoulder dislocation last week? Can Mike White lead a talented Jets team to victory after supplanting the woeful Zach Wilson? Here’s to hoping more Justin Fields magic this week. Former Rams to watch: S Lamarcus Joyner and DE John Franklin-Myers of the Jets.
Atlanta Falcons @ Washington Commanders (10:00 PST)
Atlanta has managed to float around .500 despite a meager passing attack from Marcus Mariota. I’ve been hoping to get a glimpse of rookie QB Desmond Ridder but he has yet to see the field. The Commanders have enjoyed a renewed energy behind QB Taylor Heinicke and have stayed in the race for the NFC East. Former Rams to watch: WR KhaDarel Hodge of the Falcons.
There isn’t a 2022 team I enjoy watching less than the Broncos but they have a winnable matchup against the lowly Panthers. As NFL fans, there isn’t much to see here with two teams who have three wins apiece in the AFC. Former Rams to watch: G Austin Corbett of the Panthers.
Lamar Jackson is questionable in this game but the Ravens have something the Rams fans wish the had: a very capable backup in Tyler Huntley. The Jaguars have recently acquired former Ram Darrell Henderson via waivers but he’s unlikely to play in this one. Former Rams to watch: CB Marcus Peters of the Ravens and CB Darious Williams of the Jaguars.
This is an interesting game for these teams as it is essentially a must win for both. If the Chargers lose here the Chiefs will pull away further with the tie breaker. If the Cardinals drop this game, they are likely in purgatory next to the Rams. Former Rams to watch: TE Gerald Everett, DT Sebastian Joseph-Day, and Sony Michel of the Chargers.
The Raiders are yet another team along the Rams’ trajectory at 3-7 and they travel to Seattle to face the shockingly good Geno Smith and young star RB Kenneth Walker. As Rams fans, the hope is that Seattle drops this and every game from here on out. Both are unlikely. Former Rams to watch: C Austin Blythe of the Seahawks.
The Saints are coming off a convincing win against the Rams and the 49ers are following a blowout of the division rival Cardinals. It’s an NFC matchup so it will likely be somewhat close but it’s hard to envision the 49ers losing this one behind a talented offense and a top tier defensive unit. Former Rams to watch: EDGE Samson Ebukam of the 49ers.
The Packers HAVE to win this game or they are likely forked in this playoff hunt. The Eagles are in a very different boat at 9-1 atop the NFL. But if they hope to stay in front of the surging Cowboys, they’ll have to continue stacking wins. Could be a tough ask against the desperate Packers. Former Rams to watch: EDGE Robert Quinn of the Eagles. The Packers also claimed Justin Hollins via waivers but he is unlikely to see any snaps this quickly.
Kenny Pickett has had growing pains and the Steelers offense has been uninspiring as a result. The Colts haven’t been much better and need to win this game or they likely drift to far behind in division. I have a feeling this could be sneaky good game with a close finish at the end. Former Rams to watch: S Rodney McLeod of the Colts.