The Los Angeles Rams will face another tough test on Sunday when they visit the surprising Jacksonville Jaguars in a battle of 3-2 teams on Sunday.
Rams Offense vs Jags Defense
One thing is for sure here, the Rams don't want to put themselves in a hole early in this game. The Jaguars boast the number three passing defense in the NFL, and cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey (a 2016 first round draft choice) and A.J Bouye are about as good of a pair of starting corners as you will find in the league. This is a unit that embarrassed Ben “Big Ben” Roethlisberger and the Pittsburg Steelers last week in a 30-9 shellacking. On the other hand, this is a unit that can be run on, with the league's 31st-ranked rushing defense. I would expect a strong dose of Todd Gurley, both running and as a receiver. Tight ends Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee are also likely to play key roles. The Rams only targeted Sammy Watkins twice last week. We'll see if that changes, but I don't know that this is the week to unleash the deep passing game.
Rams Defense vs Jags Offense
This could be a problem for the Rams if their earlier rushing defense problems resurface. Leonard Fournette is clearly a force to be reckoned with, coming off a 181-yard, two-touchdown torching of the Steelers last week. That included a 90-yard touchdown run, by the way. The Rams held Seattle to 62 years rushing, but they won't be facing Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls and the deficient Seattle Seahawks O-line on Sunday. As much as I like Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron, at 235 and 225 pounds respectively, they are on the small side to take on the Jaguars smash-mouth running game. Robert Quinn isn't necessarily an ideal run defender either. On the bright side Aaron Donald is looking like Aaron Donald, while Micheal Brockers and Tanzel Smart have also been more than holding their own. Even so, this is a matchup of the Rams 27th ranked run defense against the top-ranked rushing offense in the league. The good news is that the Jaguars don't throw the ball very well or very often, with only the 30th ranked passing offense. We'll see what Wade Phillips can come up with, but this isn't a great matchup for the Rams, at least on paper.
The Rams special teams weren't very special last week, between Tavon Austin's fumbling problem and Greg Zuerlein missing a field goal a week after kicking 7 in a win over Dallas Cowboys. Pharoah Cooper is expected to return punts as well as kickoffs this week for the Rams. I expect better this week from the Rams.
As a Rams fan, I am extremely nervous about this game. Los Angeles simply can't turn the ball over five times against Jacksonville or this could get ugly. The other thing I am concerned about is stopping Leonard Fournette. On the other hand, this game could be tailor-made for Todd Gurley, and as good as Jacksonville's pass defense is, the Rams may have too many weapons for them to cover everyone all of the time. Really, I think you could flip a coin on this one. but I am a Rams fan, and coaching could make the difference here. I believe in Sean McVay and Wade Phillips, especially against a somewhat one dimensional opponent.
Rams 27 Jaguars 24