Three obscure heroes who can make all the difference for LA Rams

Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams will get into the playoffs, win or lose, no matter what happens in Week 18. But the LA Rams cannot rely upon backing into the post-season. The team has a chance to not only bash open the door on a playoff run but an opportunity to knock their NFC West nemesis, the San Francisco 49ers, out of the playoffs in the process.

But the familiarity of these two teams has already created the risk of parity. For every star player, coaches and players from the opposing team have spent countless hours preparing to neutralize their performance. The Rams know that they must stop the run. The offense knows that they must at least commit to running the ball. They even know that they must secure the football today.

And the Rams now know that offensive tackle Trent Williams and defensive back K’Waun Williams will not suit up for the 49ers.

Of course, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will, sore thumb and all.

Return to sender

It is pretty clear that ever since the LA Rams have involved Brandon Powell in their return game, they have been winning. Powell is not the biggest, fastest, or strongest player on the football field. But he has a knack of patience and quickness, an instinctive way of feeling where the creases occur and the running lanes appear.

While a return for a touchdown would be ideal, the Rams would be grateful simply for some consistently good field position in Week 18.  Giving the offense a short field routinely would be a huge boost towards winning this one.

Holding out for heroics from Howard

The LA Rams know that the middle of the football field will be assaulted relentlessly by the 49ers offensive attack. That means that inside linebacker Travin Howard will get a lot of business in this one. Howard had only his first NFL start in Week 17, but he has put up two consecutive games with five tackles, and he even had an interception against the Minnesota Vikings.

Howard’s work will be cut out for him. But heads-up play, something he can deliver, can mean great things. He simply needs to play his role, cover his territory. Yes, the 49ers will target him in this one, but Howard is not alone. A deflection, a hurried pass, even being in the right position to make a critical tackle are all possible.

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What about A’Shawn?

The LA Rams defensive front is certainly getting plenty of attention, particularly in the face of facing San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo who has made plenty of comments about a sore throwing hand. Now, defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson is the guy who nobody is talking about, nobody is thinking about.

There hasn’t been a lot of conversation about Robinson, but there should be. He finally put up a quarterback sack in the game against the Baltimore Ravens, but his production has been incredibly impressive. He had a season-high eight tackles against the 49ers earlier this year, but with so much attention focusing upon Greg Gaines, Robinson will likely face a single blocker all day.

If A’Shawn Robinson gets hot in this one, 49ers QB Garoppolo will make mistakes.

Now, the game is underway. Whose House? Rams House.

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