The 2019 Los Angeles Rams are not the same scoring machine as the team from last season that cruised to a 13-3 record and scored an NFC high of 527 points.
This year the Rams have been unable to perform at that same level, losing three of their last four and putting their chances of reaching the playoffs in doubt.
It has prompted some to claim they are suffering from a ‘Super Bowl Hangover’. Unfortunately for Sean McVay’s men, Advil, water and a greasy breakfast will not be the cure.
After a Todd Gurley knee injury was kept under wraps during the playoffs last season, the fifth year running back has not looked the same. The Rams are working more tentatively with Gurley to limit his touches and to try and preserve him not only later into the season, but also to elongate his career.
This means a more balanced workload for the supporting cast of running backs in LA: Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown. Coach Sean McVay ruled out Malcolm Brown for the second week in a row following a niggling ankle injury, and Darrell Henderson will have to step into the role of Gurley’s top wingman.
Figuring out a balance with Todd Gurley will be crucial to loosening up the Rams offense moving forward. The Bengals run defense is also the worst in the league, and Gurley/ Henderson could do some real damage on Sunday if used effectively.
— Ben Chapal (@BChap12) October 25, 2019
The Rams defense will also have a slightly new look to it, as cornerback Jalen Ramsey will make his second appearance for LA after forcing a trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ramsey is widely considered one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, and has been a pro bowler the past two seasons. He had his first bit of action in last week’s win against the Atlanta Falcons, where he was given a tough assignment marking Julio Jones. Jones was able to put together 93 receiving yards despite Ramsey’s best efforts.
“I’ve got to get in my groove a little bit more, it’s just maybe one, maybe two plays that I wanted to have back or play a little bit different, but I thought it was good,” said Ramsey after the victory over the Falcons.
Safety Eric Weddle assured reporters at the team’s open practice on Friday that there should be no cause for concern about throwing Ramsey right into the frying pan, as he is learning a new defensive system mid season.
“He played, so it was like his first preseason game… I would say from rhythm and timing and just seeing the flow and the speed of the game, the second game he’ll have a big jump and by the third and fourth game he should be in a good rhythm.”
This week’s matchup will be an important one for Ramsey, as the Bengals have the 12thbest pass offense despite being weak in most other areas of play. Cincinnati wide receiver Tyler Boyd could prove to be a tricky assignment for Ramsey, as he has been Andy Dalton’s favored receiver so far this season with 471 receiving yards so far.
The Rams enter week eight with real concerns over their postseason fortunes. Strong starts from divisional rivals Seahawks and 49ers have the Rams on the outside looking in on the early playoff picture.
A win against the Bengals is paramount for keeping the pressure on their NFC West opponents. Coach Sean McVay stressed the importance of a strong mentality when facing a winless team.
“That’s never been an issue, there’s too many good players and coaches in this league, no matter what their record is, when you flip on the film for the Bengals, they are a very competitive team, they do a good job, and I think our guys understand the urgency that is necessary for us to improve on last weeks performance. I trust the veteran leadership that we have and it wont be an issue.”
The Rams will kickoff against the Bengals at 5:00pm UK time.