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Can the Rams keep pace in wild NFC West?

It worked so well the first time, the Rams chose to replicate their 2017 London itinerary as closely as possible.

After staying in the Eastern Time Zone through Thursday's practice in Atlanta, the team took a red-eye to London, arriving Friday morning.

In Sean McVay's first season, the Rams connected a road win in Jacksonville with a 33-0 trouncing of Arizona in the U.K.

Might Cincinnati be in for a similar fate?

"Came [to London] the same time, kind of kept a very similar schedule," the head coach said after Friday's practice at The Grove. "We're hopeful for a very similar result."

The Los Angeles Rams practice in London, England ahead of Sunday's Week 8 matchup against the Bengals!

By the Bye

Currently situated at eighth in the NFC framework, notching consecutive wins away from home before the bye would be huge for a team that just a week ago was trying to fight off a three-game losing skid.

Given the schedule they've played, the miles they've logged, and the injuries they've overcome, 5-3 would be a sizeable accomplishment. But it would also set the stage for an incredible second half.

Under Sean McVay, the Rams are 4-0 going into and coming out of a bye.

It feels like this edition of the Rams is poised to peak at the right time and play meaningful football down the stretch. But stubbing their toe against the 0-7 Bengals is not an option.

Win it For Whit

Very cool note from Travis Langer, of award-winning Rams P.R. department fame, about left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

Sunday, he has a chance to be the 12th starter in NFL history to defeat all 32 franchises.

Big Whit has been very transparent about how his tenure in Cincinnati ended after 11 seasons. And his teammates want this one for him.

Tight end Gerald Everett told me on this week’s Rams Revealed, "He hasn't said a word about it, but that's one of those unspoken things; we definitely want to get that done."

Right on Targets

Another topic we covered was the stark contrast between the first and second halves Everett played in his hometown of Atlanta.

Many of you noticed the disconnect with Jared Goff early on, as the third-year tight end was targeted seven times but caught just one. After the break, however, he hauled in all three passes thrown his way, including a 33-yarder and a touchdown.

"You know, I don't think anything changed. Just having that confidence in each other," Everett said of getting on the same page with Goff at the half. "Wherever he puts it, I'm going to try my best to go get it. And I just want him to be able to let it go without any doubt."

The top three games of Everett's career in terms of targets have all come in the past four weeks.

British Royal-tie

The Bengals have only played one London game in their history, and it was a 27-27 tie in 2016… versus Washington and offensive coordinator Sean McVay.

It remains the only tie in the NFL's International Series.

Zac Taylor was the offensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati that season (Bearcats, not Bengals). He would join McVay in Los Angeles a few months later.

Taylor is still in search of his first NFL head coaching win, something McVay hopes is right around the corner, back in the United States.

"I think if there is anybody that is meant to handle a little bit of adversity the right way as a leader with a consistency approach, to continue to just battle and come on the right end of it, I think it's Zac," McVay said of his former receivers and quarterbacks coach.

"Hopefully, he'll get that thing going after this week."

The Bengals will also take their bye after returning from London. Their schedule resumes with a trip to Baltimore in Week 10.

Mundt Force

One of the revelations of the Rams being more multiple with their offensive personnel lately has been the blocking ability of Johnny Mundt. At 233 pounds, he's the lightest of the Rams trio, but that didn't stop him from pancaking Vic Beasley last week. And according to Pro Football Focus, he graded even better in pass protection.

What About Woods

Robert Woods has a rushing touchdown this season, but the fact that we're almost at the midway point and he doesn't have a receiving score is a statistical stunner.

Then again, it wasn't until his eighth game as a Ram that he caught his first touchdown, and he had two that day in New York. So perhaps 2019 has something similar in store for Woods in Week 8.

Never has he endured an eight-game drought within a season.

Bengals Rushing Disparity

As previously noted, the Taylor Era in Cincinnati is not off to the best start. In particular, they're getting crushed in the running game on both sides of the ball.

In seven contests the Bengals have rushed for 372 yards. They've allowed 1,323. You will not be surprised to learn that those figures are last in the NFL. For analytic context, per NFL's Next Gen Stats, Cincinnati rushers have been stuffed on 31.3% of their attempts, easily the highest rate in the league.

The Rams have been much-improved against the run in 2019, and a stout performance this weekend could solidify them as one of the league's top defenses going into the second half of the season.

Shutdown Corner Candidates

Unlike last week, when Jalen Ramsey was charged with shadowing future Hall of Famer Julio Jones, there doesn't appear to be a true No. 1 right now for the Bengals.

A.J. Green has yet to play this season and has been ruled out for Sunday. John Ross is on injured reserve. That leaves Tyler Boyd as Cincinnati's primary receiver. So perhaps that's where Ramsey will gravitate.

It's interesting in this regard, though: The NFC West is seen as a division without an All-Pro wide receiver.

Much as we love Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, and Woods, here's where rival receivers rank league-wide in receiving yards per game this season:

SEA Tyler Lockett – 20th

ARI Larry Fitzgerald – 30th

ARI Christian Kirk – 34th

See what I mean?

Sunday could actually provide some insight as to how Wade Phillips might deploy Ramsey against more evenly distributed receiving corps like those in San Francisco, Seattle, and Arizona.

How Will The West Be Won?

Quick word about that division race to finish.

The NFC West goes into Week 8 as the only division in the NFL without a losing team. Six divisions have multiple teams with losing records.

Meantime, the 49ers, Seahawks, Rams and Cardinals have combined for an 18-8-1 start, and three of those losses were head-to-head.

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