1. Will Aaron Donald destroy us on Sunday? We don't have our starting center Brandon Linder for a second straight week and I'm worried.
So the answer is yes, but not because I'm a Rams fan and because Aaron Donald is a Ram and Aaron Donald is good at football and Brandon Linder is out but because Aaron Donald doesn't dominate competition. Aaron Donald eats souls. Sorry, not sorry.
2. How's the Rams offensive line? We're leading the league in sacks currently -- do you think that success continues into Sunday?
This is a pretty interesting battle actually. On talent alone, I'm worried. But the Rams' offensive line has played well this year beyond just the personnel adjustment of adding left tackle Andrew Whitworth. He's one of the of the NFL's best tackles, but at 35 years old he's working to stave off Father Time more than anything. And outside of Whitworth and center John Sullivan, who had started one game in the last two seasons before joining the Rams, the Rodger Saffold-Jamon Brown-Rob Havenstein trio returned from last year's abysmal line.
It's not a wholesale turnover. It's been a minor personnel adjustment that has had a major effect that seems to go beyond the depth chart. And perhaps that speaks to something more impactful or permanent or profound or whatever about the Rams' offensive line and the Rams' offense and the Rams in general more than anything.
And that's what makes this an interesting matchup. The Rams are making much more of the talent level they have than in years past, so it's hard to really buy in long-term to the offensive line play... but it becomes less and less hard each week. So I dunno.
3. If you were an opposing offensive and defensive coordinator, how would you attack the Rams?
As an offensive coordinator, run the ball. And run the ball. And run the ball. And run the ball. What down is it? Not fourth? Not third-and-long? Yeah great, run the ball.
As a defensive coordinator, the Rams are a very hard offense to figure out. There's a ton going on. Two weeks ago in Dallas, the Rams put together nine scoring drives. Nine. Last week against the Seattle Seahawks, the Rams found their way into the red zone five times. This is where I insert the disclaimer to not pay attention to the paltry three points the Rams pulled out of those four red zone drives (no, seriously). Suffice to say, the Rams are creating chances. A lot of them. And it's not one guy. It's the variety of options in the passing game buttressed by the running game spearheaded by RB Todd Gurley that is giving too much variance for defenses to key in on individually.
So uh... run the ball... and make that enough.
4. How is the Rams secondary so far? Is there any hope for Blake Bortles to not have a meltdown of a game?
It's not bad. It's close to good. But with defensive back Lamarcus Joyner and linebacker Mark Barron potential injury outages with reserve cornerback Troy Hill likely sidelined, there's perhaps a newness to some of the components to concern Rams fans.
But, and I'm trying not to wear the homer hat here, this is the team that Kirk Cousins put up 179 yards against. Dak Prescott put up 252 yards on 36 attempts. Last week, Russell Wilson went 24-for-37 for 198 yards, one touchdown and a pick.
*waves hand* These are not the defensive backs you're looking for.
5. What's gonna happen on Sunday? Will the Jaguars be able to get a win at home or will the Rams surprise us?
I dunno, man. I think the exciting thing is that it feels like we're on the precipice of a new NFL. An NFL without Peyton Manning (obviously) and Tom Brady and Drew Brees and beyond the power brokers of years past that could give way to a new power structure that could include the Rams and the Jaguars. I think that more than who wins this week, I'm excited at the idea that this game matters to the larger NFL audience in a sincere way. In a way that fans of other teams could be invested in these questions and answers. That's new. And that's fun (for us, at least).
I'll take the Rams winning a close one, but I'm more satisfied with a new NFL landscape that makes either a Rams road win in Week 6 or a Jaguars home victory meaningful in the larger layout something of note to the rest of the NFL world than a world where this game doesn't matter.
The last time we played each other was 2013. We went 7-9. Y'all went 4-12.
Here's to this meaning something greater moving forward.