Five matchups that could determine the outcome of Sunday’s game:
Aaron Donald, DT, #99 vs. Ted Larsen, RG, #62
With 7.0 sacks through 11 games this year after 9 sacks last season, the development of Aaron Donald into the next great 3-technique tackle continues apace. Ted Larsen seized the starting RG job from Jonathan Cooper — he’ll keep it if he keeps Donald out of the Arizona backfield.
Todd Gurley, RB, #30 vs. Deone Bucannon, $B, #20
The Cards are allowing 4.1 YPA, T12th according to NFL.com. Their rush defense DVOA (how successful opponent runs are) ranks them 7th in the NFL. Gurley’s second season has regressed a little toward the mean — he ranks 13th in DYAR and 14th in DVOA — but presents an immense challenge to the undersized safety/linebacker.
Rodney McLeod, S, #23 vs. David Johnson, RB, #31
The Rams safety is having a career year in his contract season. He’s already racked up 3 forced fumbles on the year. Johnson has been focused on ball security the last few weeks, but every one of his opponents have been focused on ripping the ball out. I’m certain we’ll be holding our breath every carry.
Tavon Austin, WR, #11 vs. Tyrann Mathieu, DB, #32
This year, Austin has been the Rams’ offensive equivalent to the Honey Badger. Austin lacks the prototype measureables for the position, but OC Frank Cignetti has made a commitment to getting him the ball in a variety of ways. Austin has been Mathieu’s kryptonite since college.
Greg Robinson, OT, #73 vs. Calais Campbell, DT, #93
This is a battle between two struggling players. Greg Robinson is going through a significant sophomore slump; Calais Campbell has just 1.5 sacks through 11 games and is likely to set a career low. With replacement-level talent around him in the defensive front-seven, Campbell needs to generate more pressure on his own.