Rams vs. Jets matchups: Cam Akers-led run attack looks to keep rolling
When Rams have the ball: The Rams rediscovered their rushing attack in a 24-3 victory over New England, so it remains to be seen whether coach Sean McVay again puts the ball in the hands of running back Cam Akers. The rookie was the NFC offensive player of the week after rushing for 171 yards in 29 carries against the Patriots. McVay has said Akers’ performance would not necessarily end the running-back-by-committee approach with Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown. Jared Goff has passed for 18 touchdowns, with 11 interceptions, in a passing attack that has focused primarily on short throws. Receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are among the league leaders in yards gained after the catch. Rookie receiver Van Jefferson will play for the first time with his father, former NFL receiver Shawn Jefferson, on the opposing sideline. Shawn Jefferson coaches Jets receivers. Jets coach Adam Gase fired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams this month after a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on a last-second touchdown pass. Frank Bush is directing a defense that ranks 30th in the NFL, giving up 399.6 yards per game. Lineman Quinnen Williams has six sacks and 121/2 tackles for losses.
When Jets have the ball: Former USC quarterback Sam Darnold, the third pick in the 2018 draft, has struggled through illness and injuries during most of his first three seasons. In nine games this season, Darnold has passed for five touchdowns, with nine interceptions, for an offense that averages a league-low 269.8 yards per game. He has been sacked 28 times. Darnold has playmaking ability but will be pressed against a Rams defense that is giving up a league-low 285.8 yards per game and has scored touchdowns in each of the last three games. Running back Frank Gore, at 37 and in his 16th NFL season, has rushed for 546 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Jamison Crowder has 42 catches, five for touchdowns, but is listed as questionable because of a calf injury. Breshad Perriman has 26 catches, three for touchdowns. Lineman Aaron Donald has a league-best 121/2 sacks for a unit that limited the Patriots to a field goal. The Rams have given up a league-low 14 touchdown passes. Against the Jets, the Rams will be without Nick Scott, a rotational safety and special teams stalwart who, along with offensive lineman Bobby Evans, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday. Rookie JuJu Hughes could play in Scott’s place.
When they kick: Matt Gay has made six of eight field-goal attempts for the Rams. The Jets cut kicker Sergio Castillo after he missed three of four attempts against the Seahawks. Former Rams kicker Sam Ficken came off injured reserve last week and was placed on the Jets practice squad, presumably to be promoted to play Sunday if healthy. Johnny Hekker averages 46 yards per punt for the Rams, Braden Mann 44.7 for the Jets.
Gary Klein’s prediction: Rams players have said they would not look past a winless opponent. As hapless as the Jets have been, it probably would not matter. The Rams will clinch a playoff spot.
RAMS 34, JETS 7
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