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Los Angeles Rams: What to watch vs San Francisco 49ers


 The Rams return to Los Angeles after spurning the city 22 years ago when they bolted for St. Louis. Not much has changed with the team since they left. They are still searching for a QB to get them back to the playoffs. The Los Angeles Rams gave up a slew of picks to move up and draft Jared Goff. He looked shaky at best in the preseason and will start the season on the bench, much to the dismay of many Rams fans.

Offense

The Rams have several new faces on this side of the ball as they look to improve on an offense that has struggled to score points on what seems to be a yearly basis. The problem is, many of those new faces won’t make an impact early on due to injury. Or some are just simply not ready yet. The Rams will need them to be ready sooner rather than later.

RB Todd Gurley is expected to be a beast with his knee injury behind him. Benny Cunningham is a solid backup that will earn a big payday shortly. Teams will be stacking the box so the Rams will have to make plays in the passing game. Incumbent QB Case Keenum will continue to be the starter until Goff is ready.

The receivers pretty much stay the same since the club didn’t have many picks to work with due to the trade above. Kenny Britt is in a contract year so expect him to show up. Tavon Austin got a 42 million in the contract for some reason, so it seems the Rams plan to get him the ball more. TE Lance Kendricks takes over for bonehead Jared Cook, who was cut in the offseason.

The OL returns all its starters and should be a strength after playing a whole season together. LT Greg Robinson shows signs of improvement, and he needs to. This will be his last chance to prove he is a top flight tackle. G Rodger Saffold was kept in a surprising this offseason, but it remains to be seen if he can stay healthy. 

Defense

The Rams boast one of the best DL in football. DE Robert Quinn returns from back surgery, and the team hopes he can return to form. DT Aaron Donald is a monster and continues to look like one of the best to ever play the position. William Hayes was retained with a three-year deal in the offseason, and although he will be 32 this year, he still has a lot to offer.

The Rams LB’s must do a better job containing RB Carlos Hyde, who is now expected to play after being on concussion protocol all week. Hyde gashed the Rams in their two meeting last season. Alec Ogletree is expected to make a big jump this season as the team has moved him to MLB. Converted safety Mark Barron was rewarded with a big contract for his lights out play last season. Expect Gregg Williams to run all sorts of stunts and gimmicks to try to catch the 49ers off guard.

Although San Francisco has pedestrian WR’s, they make plays when they have to. Trumaine Johnson is in contract years so expect him to play at a high level after signing the franchise tag tender. The loss of Janoris Jenkins will hurt, but the Rams have a deep stable of capable CB’s. Safety T.J. McDonald is a top 10 safety and is only getting better. FS is up in the air with the loss of Rodney McCleod so it’s an unknown who will replace him.

 Specialists

P Johnny Hekker is one of the best in the league. PR Tavon Austin has been a bust as a receiver but is a top-flight return man. Benny Cunningham is one of the top KR’s in the NFC. Kicker Greg Zuerlein is a wild card. He looked solid early in his career but has hit a wall the last two seasons.

Bottom Line

The Los Angeles Rams line will struggle early, but the nostalgia of a return to Los Angeles will propel the Rams to a victory. PREDICTED SCORE: Rams 23 49ers 17


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]