Even though the Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins infrequently play each other, their Week 8 matchup is loaded with intriguing storylines. First and foremost, Jared Goff will be facing the Dolphins for the second time in his career, with his first start against Miami coming in his NFL debut in 2016.
Goff would prefer to omit the memory of his first start versus the Dolphins, as he completed 17 of his 31 passes for only 134 yards. Above all, the Rams would lose the game 14-10, cutting their record against Miami to 2-11 all-time.
Ironically enough, while Goff looks to redeem himself against the team he began his career against, rookie No. 5 overall pick, Tua Tagovailoa, will be making the first start of his career on Sunday versus the Rams. This will be the first time we’ve seen Tagovailoa in action since his season-ending hip injury that cut his final season at Alabama short last November.
Besides the enthralling storylines between the quarterbacks, there will be engrossing battles going on at other positions. When the Rams and Dolphins kick off on Sunday, here are a few matchups to watch out for that may pique your interest.
Robert Woods vs. Xavien Howard
For the second straight week, Robert Woods finds himself matched up with one of the more underrated cornerbacks in the NFL. Just a week after lining up across Kyle Fuller for the majority of the game, Woods will now likely draw Xavien Howard on Sunday versus the Dolphins.
In Los Angeles’ 24-10 victory over the Chicago Bears, Woods had just three receptions for 22 yards, along with 23 rushing yards on four attempts. Of course, his late-game fumble would give the Bears their only touchdown of the game.
After his quiet showing against Fuller and Chicago’s daunting defense, Woods will look to get back on track against Howard and the Dolphins. Howard is giving up a 46.7 percent completion percentage when targeted, which is second-best among CBs in the NFL. Provided that, Woods is going to have his work cut out for him again to prove he’s one of the best all-around WRs in the league.
Darious Williams vs. DeVante Parker
On the other side of the field, the Rams are going to have to concern themselves with keeping Miami’s passing attack in check. With Tagovailoa under center, the rookie signal-caller will look to get DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, and Mike Gesiciki involved.
Of the pass-catching options listed, Parker and Gesicki are the ones that could pose the biggest threats to Los Angeles’ secondary. Seeing that the Rams move Jalen Ramsey around more often than not, Darious Williams will likely be tasked with covering Parker in Week 8.
As good as Ramsey has been this season, Williams has also been spectacular in his own right. Williams currently boasts a 53.8 completion percentage and an impressive 62 passer rating when targeted this season. Even though Parker isn’t expected to be at one-hundred percent, the skirmish between Williams and Parker is worth keeping an eye on.
Rams’ defensive front vs. Tua Tagovailoa
Once again, the Dolphins are electing to have Tagovailoa make his first career start versus the Rams on Sunday. While Ryan Fitzpatrick was performing well at the helm, Miami wants to begin seeing what they have in their hopeful franchise quarterback.
Unfortunately for the Alabama product, his first start in the NFL will come against a fearsome Rams defense. Through the first seven weeks, Los Angeles’ new-look defense under Brandon Staley is the second-best scoring defense (17.7 points per game allowed) and have tallied 24 sacks as a defensive unit (third-most in the NFL).
Despite the success that the Rams have had defensively thus far, they’ll need to make sure they are prepared for the skillset of Tagovailoa — which involves his ability to move around in the pocket. With Tagovailoa being left-handed, Los Angeles needs to prevent him from rolling to his left, and manufacturing plays down the field.
The edge rushers of the Rams will need to hold contain on Tagovailoa and collapse the pocket to force him inside. In the event that Los Angeles can achieve those things, then Aaron Donald could welcome the rookie to the NFL by setting up shop in the backfield.