The Los Angeles Rams know what it is like to be the NFL's flavor of the month, and in prime time Sunday night there will be plenty who will tune in to see if they symbolically pass the torch to the latest up-and-comer.
The Cleveland Browns have not yet lived up to the hype they carried into the season, but they are coming off a victory over an overmatched New York Jets team Monday and will try to keep their stride against the Rams on Sunday in front of their own fans.
The Browns were humbled at home 43-13 by the Tennessee Titans in Week 1, but beat the Jets 23-3 behind 161 receiving yards from Odell Beckham Jr. and 325 passing yards from quarterback Baker Mayfield, who insists the offense can be even better.
"I think it falls back on me just playing better, getting the ball out and getting completions like I keep harping on. Just trusting the system," Mayfield told reporters this week. "Everybody is going to do their job. We know what everybody is going to do. That is why we practiced in camp. That is why we did everything like that. Just trust and do my job."
The Rams might be 2-0 but they have their offensive inconsistencies, too. Second-half mistakes against the Carolina Panthers led to a closer-than-necessary 30-27 road victory in Week 1, and in their home opener last week, the Rams didn't score their first touchdown against the New Orleans Saints until late in the third quarter. And that was a game in which the Saints struggled to move the ball without quarterback Drew Brees.
And against the Browns, the Rams must go without starting tight end Tyler Higbee, who on Friday was ruled out with a lung injury. Two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald (back) and guard Austin Blythe (ankle) are questionable, though Donald has said he will play.
"Really, it's just a matter of thinking through, OK, who is going to be that 44th, 45th, 46th guy (on the active roster) that you want to use up," Rams coach Sean McVay told reporters Friday when talking about Blythe. "If he's feeling good enough to do that, we may go in that direction, but we're going to use the time that we have (to make that decision)."
After passing for 186 yards against the Panthers, Rams quarterback Jared Goff recovered from a slow start Sunday to throw for 283 yards and a touchdown.
Los Angeles running back Todd Gurley rushed for 97 yards in Week 1 and 63 yards last week, while scoring his first TD, but has not yet looked like a force after entering the season with questions about a knee issue from last year.
As bad as the injury news is at tight end for the Rams, it's even worse for the Browns. Cleveland has placed starting tight end David Njoku on injured reserve with a broken wrist suffered Monday night. The Browns also announced that starting safety Damarious Randall (concussion) and starting linebacker Christian Kirksey (chest) are out, as is backup offensive tackle Kendall Lamm (knee).
There is no shortage of Browns players listed as questionable, either: cornerbacks Greedy Williams (hamstring) and CB Denzel Ward (hamstring), safety Morgan Burnett (quadriceps), wide receiver Rashard Higgins (knee), right tackle Chris Hubbard (foot), linebacker Adarius Taylor (ankle), safety Sheldrick Redwine (hamstring) and defensive end Chris Smith (personal).
--Field Level Media