Halloween has come and gone and Week 9 is already upon NFL fans. After losing again in Week 8, the Los Angeles Rams find themselves falling even further behind NFC opponents. It seems across the division that the top teams of last season have stumbled and new faces have emerged, some in surprising fashion. Here’s what fellow Rams fans should be keeping an eye on this week.
The NFL’s only unbeaten team travels to NRG Stadium to lock horns with a team that finds itself with only one win and a bevy of problems on both sides of the football. Look for Jalen Hurts and the Eagles to take advantage of a soft Texans defense as they look to further their lead in the NFC. Former Rams to watch: WR Brandin Cooks of the Texans
The Rams’ roommates head to Atlanta to face a frisky Falcons squad who is surprisingly atop the NFC South and a potential playoff team in the conference. They’ve found some success even without much of a passing game. The Chargers have struggled on offense as without Keenan Allen and will be missing Mike Williams this week as well. Fellow Rams to watch: TE Gerald Everett, DT Sebastian Joseph-Day, and RB Sony Michel of the Chargers and WR KhaDarel Hodge of the Falcons.
The Bears will host the Dolphins in a game that shouldn’t effect the Rams or the NFC all that much. Justin Fields looks to ride momentum of the last two weeks where he’s been unleashed as a runner. The Dolphins have some shiny new toys in Bradley Chubb and Jeff Wilson to test out on the field. There aren't any notable Rams to watch in this one.
The Panthers are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Falcons and have found themselves already far behind in their division. Across the field, the Bengals where blown out by the Browns in the Ohio Bowl a week ago and will aim to get back on track without Ja’Marr Chase. Former Rams to watch: G Austin Corbett of the Panthers.
The Packers find themselves in a similar position in the NFC as the Rams with a struggling offense and three wins on the season. Aaron Rodgers has been frustrated by a young WR core that lacks talent but they should find some room against a Lions defense that has been near the bottom of the league. Former Rams to watch: QB Jared Goff, WR Josh Reynolds, and DT Michael Brockers of the Lions.
It’s an AFC matchup that won’t effect the Rams until the inevitable Rams-Patriots Super Bowl rematch at the end of the season. Will Mac Jones hold off the chants for Bailey Zappe? Can Sam Ehlinger show enough to be a long term answer for the Colts? Former Rams to watch: S Rodney McLeod of the Colts.
In this AFC matchup, the Bills look to extend their lead over the shocking 5-3 Jets. Zach Wilson has not been effective in recent weeks and is looking like an anchor holding this offense back despite young weapons at WR. Josh Allen is the early MVP favorite in many eyes and a surefire playoff contender come January. Former Rams to watch: DE John-Franklin Myers, S Lamarcus Joyner of the Jets and G Rodger Saffold, EDGE Von Miller (miss you bro) of the Bills.
Minnesota Vikings @ Washington Commanders (10:00 PST)
The 6-1 Vikings are tied atop the NFC and travel to face the Taylor Heinecke Commanders. Heineke has awakened the Commanders receiving core and has pushed Scary Terry McLaurin back to relevance. Will the Vikings win another game and distance further from the rival Packers? Former Rams to watch: TE Johnny Mundt of the Vikings.
Rounding out the early slate is a game where two AFC teams look to rebound in hopes of salvaging a lost season. The loser of this one is likely out of the picture in the AFC. Derek Carr needs to improve his play or Las Vegas could be looking for a replacement come 2023. Trevor Lawrence needs to show more than just the occasional flash of potential. Former Rams to watch: CB Darious Williams of the Jaguars.
This is the game to watch for Rams fans as two division foes head to battle in the desert. The Seahawks have found surprising success behind a very good 2022 draft class and steady play from Geno Smith under center. The Cardinals have struggled with tensions flaring between coach and quarterback in the week prior. Can Seattle extend their lead or will the Cardinals find a way to get back into the win column and keep things close in the division? Here’s to hoping for the latter. Former Rams to watch: C Austin Blythe of the Seahawks.
My pick for game of the week occurs on Sunday Night Football under the bright lights. Two 5-2 AFC teams face off in a game where the Titans hope Ryan Tannehill can lace up. Patrick Mahomes has played MVP-caliber ball through eight weeks and has a new weapon in Kadarius Toney to work into the offense. Former Rams to watch: WR Robert Woods of the Titans.
The Saints (like the Rams) have won three games in the NFC and look to stay in the mix as they welcome the Ravens and Lamar Jackson to town. The Ravens could be without Mark Andrews and Gus Edwards in addition to Rashod Bateman, leaving Jackson with a limited arsenal in this one. Former Rams to watch: CB Marcus Peters of the Rams.