Rams (5-0) at Denver (2-3)
When Rams have the ball
The Rams’ offense is feeling invincible coming off Jared Goff’s game-clinching quarterback sneak against the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams are third in the NFL in scoring and show no signs of slowing down. The question on Sunday: Will receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp return from concussions? McVay indicated throughout the week that they were on track to play and would not be limited if they are active against the Broncos, who feature linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. If Cooks and Kupp play, they join Robert Woods in providing Goff with three receivers with more than 400 yards receiving through five games. If they do not play — or they need a break — Josh Reynolds and KhaDarel Hodge will step in again. Goff has passed for 12 touchdowns, but three of his passes have been intercepted inside the 20-yard line. The Broncos gave up 323 yards rushing in last week’s 34-16 defeat by the New York Jets, so Rams running back Todd Gurley could have a heavy workload. Gurley ranks second in the NFL with 415 yards rushing. He has run for seven touchdowns, including three last week. The line has given up six sacks. Miller has four sacks for the Broncos.
When Broncos have the ball
The Rams were able to acquire cornerback Aqib Talib from the Broncos during the offseason because general manager John Elway wanted to clear salary-cap space to sign a free-agent quarterback. Talib won’t have a homecoming because he is recovering from ankle surgery, so the defense will try to neutralize quarterback Case Keenum without him. Keenum, the Rams’ starter in 2016, landed in Denver after a successful season with the Minnesota Vikings. The Broncos rank third in the NFL in rushing with rookie running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. They will go up against a Rams defense that gave up 190 yards rushing against the Seahawks, and also appeared vulnerable in other games. Rams linemen Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh can intimidate, but the Seahawks went right at them. Broncos receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas will work against a Rams secondary that has struggled without Talib. Marcus Peters, who suffered a calf strain against the Chargers in Week 3, was beaten for several touchdowns the last two games. Troy Hill will start opposite Peters after a good performance against the Seahawks.
When they kick
Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein is still at least a week away from returning from a groin injury, so Cairo Santos will continue as the placekicker. Santos missed a potential game-tying extra point against the Seahawks but came back and kicked what proved to be the game-winning field goal. JoJo Natson could return from a hand injury to return punts but it will most likely be Kupp or Woods. Broncos kicker Brandon McManus has made all eight of his field-goal attempts.
Gary Klein’s prediction
The Broncos have lost three games in a row and players are sniping. That is not a formula for success against an unbeaten Rams team that has proved it can win with offense, defense and special teams. It will be cold in Denver but the Rams will remain hot in the second of three consecutive road games.