RAMS (5-2) vs. DOLPHINS (3-3)
When: 10 a.m. Sunday
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami
TV/radio: Ch. 11, 710 AM, 1330 AM (Spanish)
Line: Rams by 3½
What’s at stake? After playing their worst all-around game (the loss at San Francisco) followed by their best (the win over Chicago), the Rams look for the consistency the coaches have been talking about. The Rams would jump into first place in the NFC West if they win and Seattle loses to the 49ers. It would be a good way to cap the first half of their season and go into their bye week.
Who’s better? It might be closer than the records suggest. The Dolphins have improved, going from 32nd in points allowed in 2019 to third in the league after bringing in six new defensive starters in their second season under Coach Brian Flores. They got the NFC West’s attention by looming within a field goal of Seattle in the fourth quarter and then routing San Francisco.
Rams win if: If Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and the defense make Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa wish he’d debuted another time. If they stay out of third-and-long, since the Dolphins allow a league-low 31.3% on third-down conversion attempts. If punter Johnny Hekker and new kicker Kai Forbath win the battle with Miami’s special teams, ranked No. 3 by Football Outsiders.
Matchup to watch: Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey vs. Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker. Parker is one of the league’s most productive receivers since the middle of last season. Ramsey is allowing a career-low 51.5% completions this season on passes to receivers he’s covering.
Fantasy sleeper: Rams running back Darrell Henderson. The ground game has been the soft spot in Miami’s defense. Henderson has quietly taken command of the L.A. backfield committee, averaging nearly 15 carries in the past three games to Malcolm Brown’s 7.
Prediction: Rams 26, Dolphins 17. Las Vegas sees it as Rams 25-21. Even a talented rookie like Tagovailoa can be expected to struggle in his first start against a pass rush and secondary like the Rams’. McVay’s L.A. teams have been strong in these early games on the East Coast and in games following six-day weeks, although they haven’t encountered both at once before.