The Denver Broncos will travel to face one of their historically least-played opponents in Week 10 when they face the St. Louis Rams in the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, November 16th at 12:00 p.m. CST (11:00 a.m. Mile High time). The game will mark the end of three-game road trip for the Broncos, who enjoy a 2-2 record on the road so far in 2014 and have gone 1-1 in that trip.
The Rams are 3-6, but two of their wins have come against teams that appeared in the NFC Championship Game a year ago. The Rams beat the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6 then traveled to the San Francisco 49ers to take out Colin Kaepernick and crew in Week 8. Last week's loss against the Arizona Cardinals was a closer game than the 31-14 score would suggest; the Rams held the lead midway through the fourth quarter before the Cardinals offense scored on touchdown and its defense scored two.
DT Aaron Donald
The Rams' first round draft choice this year, Donald is a relatively lean (285 lbs.) defensive tackle who has shown explosion both as a pass rusher and against the run. Donald has tallied 14 QB hurries, four hits, and two sacks in his last six games (when his snap counts really ramped up) according to ProFootballFocus.com, and he has been ferocious against the run, tallying 12 stops in that period. Donald is PFF's second-highest graded defensive tackle and highest-graded DT in run defense in 2014.
TE Jared Cook
Cook had a 59-yard TD catch a week ago and is putting together a decent season, with 31 catches for 427 yards. He's also a big part of what the Rams do in their running game as a blocker - nearly all of his snaps are either as a receiver or run blocker (only 17 of 441 snaps have seen him pass block).
QB Austin Davis
Not that it matters - it's gotten so bad that Jeff Fisher has opted to bench Davis and play Shaun Hill instead. Davis' last game was particularly bad, with a pick-six by Patrick Peterson and a strip-sack fumble that was recovered by Antonio Cromartie and returned for a touchdwon. Davis finished with a 62.6 rating last Sunday, and PFF had graded him in the red (below -1.0) in four of his last five games.
RG Davin Joseph and C Scott Wells have struggled in pass protection, allowing a total of 38 pressures (sacks, hits, and hurries) to Rams' QBs this season. By comparison, we all know Broncos centers and right guards haven't been outstanding, but they've only allowed a total of 23 pressures this season.
Matchups to Watch
CB E.J. Gaines vs. WR Demaryius Thomas and WR Emmanuel Sanders
Gaines is another player who could have made my "Who's hot" list, as he enjoyed two passes defensed a week ago and only allowed three catches for 31 yards against Cardinals QBs. Gaines has started every game for the Rams at left cornerback, covering a variety of targets that has included Michael Crabtree and Larry Fitzgerald. Passers have a measly 76.7 QB rating when targeting Gaines this season, so Thomas and Sanders will have their work cut out for them when they face the Rams' best DB.
Rams special teams vs. Broncos special teams
The Rams beat the Seahawks behind some incredible special teams work, so they're third unit is one that certainly shouldn't be forgotten. It's the third-highest graded special teams in the NFL, according to PFF; the Broncos' special teams ranks 20th.
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