This Sunday night is expected to be quite the entertaining game. Here are three of the biggest matchups that will be a part of the Los Angeles Rams bout versus the Cleveland Browns.
Rams Offensive Line vs. Browns Defensive Line
This goes without saying but we still have to bring it up. The Browns are stacked on their defensive line with Myles Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi, Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon. They just tormented the New York Jets offensive line but the Rams line is a much better line even if they do start two first-year starters on the unit and will be without their starting right guard.
Okay, you can understand why this matchup is very important. The Rams will have the tough task of slowing down one of the league’s best in Garrett and they will also need to overcome the obstacle of playing without their starting right guard Austin Blythe who left the game last week with an ankle sprain. Will Andrew Whitworth be able to slow down Garrett? Will Rob Havenstein bounce back from last week’s rough performance and shut down Olivier Vernon? Will the first-year starters Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen have trouble blocking Ogunjobi and Richardson? Will Jamil Demby be so much of a weak link that he ruins the game? All of these questions will be answered on Sunday night.
The way I see it, Whitworth will slow down Garrett, Havenstein will have a bounce-back game versus Vernon, Noteboom and Allen will play well and Demby will struggle at times but the Rams offensive line will surprisingly put together a quality performance on primetime to give quarterback Jared Goff time in the pocket and carve out running lanes for Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown and rookie Darrell Henderson.
Rams Defensive Front vs. Browns Offensive Line
Last week the Jets defensive line without rookie sensation Quinnen Williams pressured Baker Mayfield 12 times. The Rams defensive line should be chomping at the bit for this matchup. While three of those pressures were charged to Mayfield for holding onto the ball too long, it’s worth mentioning that Eric Kush, Joel Bitonio and Greg Robinson all gave up two pressures on the quarterback. Mayfield was sacked twice last week in addition to those pressures. Can the Rams defensive front rack up more than two sacks? The answer should be definitely.
The Rams come into this game with Dante Fowler Jr. who has two sacks and has accumulated 11 pressures in just two games of play. After Fowler Jr. the Rams have six total pressures from Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and three from Clay Matthews. Donald has been triple-teamed multiple times this season and has been at least double-teamed on just about every play. Should the Browns decide to follow suit, the one-on-one opportunities will open up for the likes of Fowler Jr., Matthews, and Brockers who are all capable of winning those battles without hassle. If the Rams pass rush gets home on Mayfield it could be an extremely long night in Cleveland for Browns fans.
Stepping away from the pass-rushing side of the defensive front, the Rams have received great contributions in the run defense department from Donald, Fowler Jr., and Matthews. It’s imperative that the Rams sell out to stop the run. While Nick Chubb hasn’t impressed me much this year, it’s worth mentioning he was very close to becoming a 1,000-yard rusher last year despite not starting out as the initial starter. The Browns offensive line is good but trying to figure out their ideal personnel. As for the Rams, the defense and mainly the pass rush has already shown improvement from last year. In the run department it will be key for Sebastian Joseph-Day and Greg Gaines to step up and anchor the nose tackle position.
I expect the Rams defensive front will attack Mayfield all game. I don’t have confidence that Greg Robinson can stop Dante Fowler Jr., I don’t have confidence that anyone on that Browns offensive line can stop Aaron Donald and that is why I think the Rams defensive front will win this battle.
Marcus Peters vs. Odell Beckham Jr.
This is the best one-on-one matchup all game. Aqib Talib will be covering Jarvis Landry on the other side of the field but Marcus Peters will have the tall task and trying to shut down the red hot Odell Beckham Jr. OBJ is arguably the best receiver in the game and he showed off his explosiveness on Monday Night Football. As for Marcus Peters, he’s been relatively quiet but hasn’t allowed a touchdown reception. He’s only allowed three catches for 40 yards through two games. Peters at some point or another is going to find that comfortability and go back to being that ballhawk the Rams traded for. Until then, shutting down his assignments as quietly as possible will have to suffice.
Peters last week shutdown Michael Thomas and held him to one target that was not completed and so he held him to zero yards. The week before Peters allowed three catches for 40 yards to D.J. Moore but all in all the last two weeks have been a breath of fresh air for Peters. Beckham Jr. is likely going to pose a different task. The thing with Peters is that he lacks the long speed that OBJ possesses which could pose a problem. However, I do expect the Rams to impose heavy bracket coverage on Peters and funnel any and all targets to Jarvis Landry underneath. The Browns won’t have the injured tight end David Njoku, they will not be able to run their offense the way they want to.
I see the Rams giving up their first receiving touchdown to Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday night. I think Peters will have a good game but bite on a double move and get burned by OBJ. The bracket coverage implementation will work but the Rams will have to hold Jarvis Landry in check and Talib knows he has to be on that.
Once the game is in the books it will be important to look back and see how each matchup went. The winner of at least two of these matchups will likely win the football game.