Good morning, you woke up today, and that’s always a good thing. Now we get to talk about football!
Everyone knows what happened last Sunday against the Denver Broncos, it happens so we move on. Cleveland will conclude their west coast road trip as well as their NFC West head-to-head matchups this Sunday when they play the Los Angeles Rams.
For the Los Angeles Rams, after moving off multiple veterans this offseason many believe that this team was heading towards a rebuild. In terms of outperforming their expectations, the Rams are one of those teams. The team is sitting at 5-6 right now and they have a chance to sneak into the NFC Wild Card picture.
Offensively, the unit ranks 12th in EPA/per play and considering the amount of youth that’s on that side it’s surprising to see them in the top 15 (credit goes to head coach Sean McVay).
When he’s healthy and kept upright, quarterback Matthew Stafford is still a top 10/15 quarterback in this league and he’s been at times this season. Running back Kyren Williams is emerging as the lead back in Los Angeles and is continuing to get better. The wide receiver room is young but they are finding ways to be productive alongside Cooper Kupp Rookie Puka Nacua has emerged as a second option and Tutu Atwell is a valuable piece.
Defensively, if you could name 6 players that are not named Aaron Donald I will send you $50 to your PayPal, Venmo or Cash App (I’m not actually going to do that). (Editor’s Note: This is what we call hyperbole folks, not a real offer. Humor. Sarcasm. Joking.)
The unit is middle of the pack despite the amount of young talent on this team. The defense ranks 19th in defensive efficiency. Linebacker Ernest Jones has taken over as the MIKE, rookie outside linebacker Byron Young has also contributed. Safety Jordan Fuller leads in the backend of the secondary and their cornerback duo of Ahkello Witherspoon and Cobie Durant are solid.
Here are my 3 players to watch for in this upcoming Browns-Rams tilt”
WR Puka Nacua
If you were to tell me that rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua, a 5th rounder out of BYU, would lead the entire rookie receiver class in receiving yards this season you wouldn’t believe me.
With Kupp missing the beginning of the season, it allowed Nacua to step into the main role and he started to flourish. Nacua was productive in the preseason, which allowed him to earn more opportunities. He’s had 4 games of over 100 yards receiving this season and he has emerged as the 2nd option in the receiving room. In terms of his game, his route running is arguably an underrated trait he has.
The way he runs his routes is similar to another rookie in Jaxon Smith-Njigba and his teammate Kupp.
His YAC ability (yards after the catch) can’t be ignored as well.
For Cleveland, the cornerbacks will be tested against Nacua. He can manipulate routes, and he’s a big body who isn’t afraid to make those contested catches. Depending on the health of cornerback Denzel Ward (I’m guessing he will be out this week) look for Martin Emerson/Greg Newsome to be matched up with him.
RB Kyren Williams
Another Rams offensive player who shouldn’t be overlooked is running back Kyren Williams. Another 5th rounder, out of Notre Dame from the 2022 NFL Draft, Williams has emerged as the lead back in Los Angeles. When he’s healthy, the Rams offense is a lot better when he’s on the field and the stats prove that.
Rams rush offense this season:— Fabian Sommer (@suuma810) November 27, 2023
With Kyren Williams (n=122):
50% success rate
Without Kyren Williams (n=161):
40.4% success rate
Of course, transparency is needed because his last two breakout performances have been against the Arizona Cardinals but he’s been a valuable asset in the running game and the receiving game no matter the opponent.
Williams has good size and strength, with a good burst in the second level and he runs with a point to prove. One of the many reasons why the Rams moved off running back Cam Akers is because Williams showed he is someone who can be the main guy in the backfield.
For the Browns, the run defense wasn’t great last week and it will be tested again. Williams is a threat on the ground and in the receiving game and considering how Sean McVay is a wizard, it’s imperative to prevent Williams from taking the game over.
DT Kobie Turner
The Rams defensive line is young but there is talent on that front. Aside from Donald, one name to watch is rookie defensive tackle Kobie Turner. The 2023 3rd-round pick out of Wake Forest has been a disruptive force for the Rams this season. With all the attention on Aaron Donald, Turner gets a chance to showcase his skills and he’s made the most of it. He’s powerful, has good acceleration for someone of his size and it seems every week he’s getting better.
I’m trying to conduct another one this Sunday https://t.co/6LfBxFXIWc— Kobie Turner (@TurnerKobie) November 28, 2023
For the Browns, the interior offensive line has held up fairly well at times this season but having to deal with Donald and Turner will be difficult. The rookie has shown that he can be a disruptive force as showcased last week against the Cardinals, and the Browns must be prepared for him.
Besides the big names, what Rams player do you think is key to this week’s contest?