It had to start somewhere, it had to start sometime. What better place than the Coliseum? What better time than Week Three?! That’s right, the battle for Los Angeles is here! The Rams host the Chargers in a battle where one fan base is looking to expand their foothold, and the other is looking to remind people they exist. The 2-0 Rams are getting their first major test of the year, against a Chargers team loaded with talent and bad karma. In order for the Rams to march on to 3-0, they need to win these three key match ups.
Rams Receivers Vs. Chargers Secondary
The Rams were able to spray it all over the field in their first two games. That’s largely because the Raiders had no secondary, and the Cardinals could only lean on Patrick Peterson. The Chargers have a young secondary that could give Jared Goff and the Rams’ receivers a real headache. Rookie safety Derwin James is already establishing himself as one of the best young defensive backs in the league. He is not only valuable in coverage, but he’s a solid run stopper as well. He will likely be focused on stopping Brandin Cooks.
Cooks has been wide open for deep balls all season, but has been kept out of the end zone. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods will have their hands full with Trevor Williams and Casey Hayward Jr. Furthermore, the offense is still in the midst of shaking off the rust after sitting out the whole preseason. Sean McVay needs to make sure Goff and his receivers are in rhythm if they’re going to win the battle. What helps is that McVay is beginning to use tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett to stretch the field. If he leans on them more, than the offense will be unstoppable.
The Rams’ Secondary Vs. Phillip Rivers
The Rams’ secondary shut down Derek Carr and Sam Bradford. That’s not saying much, but clearly they’re hitting the ground running. Rivers is still able to chuck it down the field to Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, and Mike Williams. He’ll also use tight ends Antonio Gates and Virgil Green to exploit the Rams’ thin linebacker corps. Running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler should also see a decent amount of work in the passing game. John Johnson has emerged as a solid safety and he could be the key in slowing down the Chargers receivers. Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib will have their hands full in one on one coverage with Allen and Williams.
What better place than the Coliseum? What better time than Week Three?!
Fortunately for the Rams, their King Ghidorah of a defensive line should feast on the shaky Chargers O-line. The Rams only have two sacks thus far. Teams have done their best to double team Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald. Rivers isn’t exactly mobile, so if they can get him on the run it’ll make life a lot easier on the secondary.
Todd Gurley Vs. The Front Seven
Todd Gurley hasn’t missed a step since being the offensive player of the year last season. He’s rushed for 150 yards, three rushing touchdowns, and added a receiving touchdown. The Chargers front seven will be his toughest battle thus far. He won’t have to contend with defensive end Joey Bosa who is wearing a boot, but Melvin Ingram is still there.
The Rams’ offensive line should open up holes for Gurley, but after that it gets dicey. If he can get past Ingram and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, he still has to get through Kyzir White and Denzel Perryman. The Chargers could shut down all the jet sweeps that McVay likes to run, and if they do that they stop the Rams’ offense. He is the engine that makes their offense run. McVay will have to find creative ways to get Gurley into space.
This game should be a great showcase for both teams and could end up as a high scoring affair. The Rams are rightly favored by seven points given their consistency on offense. Still, the Chargers are often their own worst enemy, so if they can get past their own mistakes, they could make this a real battle.