Heading into a bye week and facing the 3-3 Miami Dolphins starting a rookie quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, could the Rams be a bit complacent in this one?
Not a chance, according to head coach Sean McVay, particularly with his offense facing one of the best defenses in the NFL in the Dolphins.
“These guys present a lot of different issues,” McVay said. “They’re mixing up their coverage contours, but then they also know what kind of athleticism they have and they play a lot of man. They come up and challenge you, and they do a variety of things up front to cause disruption, where the ball is coming out, but they've also have great guys that can hang in man coverage and continue to compete.
“So, they've played really well as of late. I think that's where we have to be ready to go. You flip the film on and there are a lot of problems. You see a really disruptive defense and one that's played outstanding, especially each of the last couple of weeks against the Jets and 49ers coming off a bye.”
With Tagovailoa making his first NFL start, Miami’s offensive line will be tasked with keeping the Alabama product taking his first live action since a hip injury ended his season last year in college. Although the Dolphins have allowed just 10 sacks through six games, according to ESPN Stats & Information research’s pass block win rate, Miami is No. 30 in the NFL. The Dolphins face an L.A. pass rush with 24 sacks on the year, good enough for a tie for third in NFL, led by Aaron Donald’s eight sacks. Miami will have to dial up plays where Tagovailoa gets the ball out quick or move him outside the pocket to keep him clean.
One to watch
The Rams moved on from rookie Samuel Sloman this week, so new kicker Kai Forbath’s performance will be under the microscope in his first action for the L.A. native’s hometown team. McVay said one of the reasons they brought in Forbath was his numbers under 50 yards on field goals. Forbath is 90.2 percent (119 of 132) from that distance during his career. Forbath said one things he’s been trying to improve is his kickoffs. He has a career touchback percentage of 39 percent, but it was 65 percent last season.
Fun to watch
At 6-3 and 211 pounds, DeVante Parker is a fast and physical receiver that can give defenses problems if you do not account for him. The Louisville product has 29 receptions for 364 receiving yards and two touchdowns on the year. I suspect the Rams will use talented cornerback Jalen Ramsey on Parker at times on Sunday because of his size, speed and length. Watching these two physical specimens battle it out should be entertaining.
Key to the game
The Rams need to keep it simple and they should come out with a victory on the road for the third time this season. Defensively, stop the run and force Tagovailoa to execute in second and third-and long situations. The Dolphins average just 3.8 yard per carry, No. 28 in the NFL. On offense, use the play-action game to create chunk plays, grab and early lead and play from ahead, never allowing the Dolphins to believe they have a chance to win this one.
Rams 28, Dolphins 24