Can the Rams return home after a tough loss in Minneapolis and end the Saints’ 8-game winning streak? Here are Cover32’s Standout Stars for Week 12, players who will be crucial to a victory.
Andrew Kelly – Michael Brockers
It almost goes without saying – if the Rams have a chance against New Orleans (and oddsmakers say they do), they’ll need to find a way to stop the run. While Brockers has moved to a defensive end position in the 3-4, his impact in the trenches is critical this weekend against the Saints talented running back duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. With Drew Brees under center, there’s no guarantee that if you stop the run, you win, but it’s pretty clear that if you don’t, you won’t.
Brian Joanou – Josh Reynolds
With Robert Woods sidelined with a sprained shoulder, the depth of the Rams wide receiver corps will be tested. Will this be the week that preseason star Josh Reynolds shows some of the deep speed that netted him a Texas A&M record 13 touchdowns in 2016? Rams fans would love to see it. While you can expect to see more targets for Watkins, Kupp, Austin, and Everett, Brian thinks the raw but talented rookie Josh Reynolds will make a splash on Sunday.
Scott Wagner – Mark Barron
The Rams’ run defense has been up and down all season, in some ways mirroring the play of inside linebacker Mark Barron. Along with Alec Ogletree, Barron has flashed at times with a few interceptions, the occasional tackle for loss or a big hit. More often than not, however, he’s been swallowed up by blocks and partially liable for some of the longer runs against the Rams defense this year. Barron will need to get off those blocks this week and make a few impact plays for the Rams to win on Sunday. Also, it’d be best if Michael Hoomanawanui is held without a catch so fans are spared the announcer’s inevitable name-butchering and chortling.
Isaiah Trevino – Aaron Donald
Pay the man. He’ll be double-teamed every down and he’ll still get to Drew Brees twice, miss him by a whisker another 6-8 times, and give Mark Ingram some snot bubbles to think about. In the first half. Donald is the most dominant interior lineman in pro football. Big game players earn their stripes in games like this, and the Rams will need 99 to step up to prevent a two-game skid. Isiah’s pretty sure he will, and it’s nearly impossible to bet against Donald.
Christian Gotzman – Todd Gurley
It’s pretty simple: as Gurley goes, so go the Rams. I don’t care if it’s leftover turkey and mashed potatoes, gumbo, jambalaya, a beignet or a muffaletta (mmmm…muffaletta), FEED TODD GURLEY. Even if he’s getting stuffed up the gut, or can’t get loose in the flat, eventually our big-play back will start to wear down a defense and enhance the play-action game dramatically. When the Rams go away from him, they lose.
Mike Cahill – Trumaine Johnson
While the Saints have been making noise with their running game and revamped defense this year, let’s not forget about future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees and his still-potent array of weaponry, including #1 wide receiver Mike Thomas, the ever-dangerous Tedd Ginn, Jr., and supporting cast. If Johnson can lock Thomas down, and the Rams pass rush can magically get home, the Rams will have a much better chance of victory on Sunday. Further, injuries to the secondary make 22’s play even more crucial.