Rams vs. Houston Texans matchups: L.A.’s offense aims to keep thriving

Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is congratulated by teammates
Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) is congratulated after making a touchdown catch Oct. 24 in a 28-19 win over Detroit.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Breaking down how the Rams (6-1) and the Houston Texans (1-6) match up heading into their game at 10 a.m. Pacific time Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston. The game will be carried on Fox (Channel 11).

When Rams have the ball: Just as Sean McVay planned, quarterback Matthew Stafford is enabling the coach to use the full playbook. Stafford has passed for 2,172 yards and 19 touchdowns, with four interceptions. In a 28-19 victory over the Detroit Lions on Oct. 24, Stafford passed for three touchdowns, two to receiver Cooper Kupp. The Rams should have their way with the hapless Texans whether they pass or run. Kupp potentially could set many NFL records with a league-leading 56 catches for 809 yards and nine touchdowns, especially with an extra game this season. Robert Woods and Van Jefferson also have been productive. DeSean Jackson, who has only eight catches on 15 targets, will not play because he seeking an opportunity elsewhere, according to McVay. That could translate into opportunity for rookie Tutu Atwell. Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel have been a solid running-back combination, and tight end Tyler Higbee has been a reliable third-down target. With Andrew Whitworth sidelined because of a knee injury, Joe Noteboom will start at left tackle. Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard has six sacks. Defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr. has intercepted three passes and safety Justin Reid has intercepted two.

Speedy wide receiver DeSean Jackson has not been used much by Rams this season and has requested to be traded. He won’t play Sunday against the Houston Texans.

Oct. 29, 2021


When Texans have the ball: Deshaun Watson has not played all season. Tyrod Taylor was injured in the second game, so Davis Mills is the quarterback for an offense that just traded leading rusher Mark Ingram to the New Orleans Saints. David Johnson is now the top running back. Johnson has rushed for 104 yards. Former Rams receiver Brandin Cooks is what amounts to the lone receiver. He has been targeted 64 times and has 45 catches for 502 yards and a touchdown. Johnson is the second-leading receiver with 19 catches, one for a touchdown. Receiver Chris Conley also has a touchdown catch. The Rams defense experienced turnover this week when inside linebacker Kenny Young was traded, ostensibly for financial reasons. Rookie Ernest Jones, a third-round draft pick from South Carolina, will start alongside Troy Reeder if the Rams come out in their base defense. Travin Howard also could play in the inside linebacker rotation. Nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day suffered a chest injury against the Lions and will not play. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey did not practice Thursday or Friday because of illness but is expected to play. Corner Robert Rochell and safety Jordan Fuller are questionable because of knee injuries.

When they kick: The Rams are coming off the most embarrassing special-teams performance of the McVay era. They failed to recover a Lions onside kick in the first quarter and subsequently fell asleep on two fake punt plays. They also performed poorly on kickoff returns. Otherwise, all is well with the special teams. Matt Gay has made 13 of 14 field-goal attempts.

Gary Klein’s prediction: It was a semi-tumultuous week for the Rams with the trade of Young and the trade request by Jackson, but that will not prevent the Rams from winning easily against a team clearly playing for a high draft pick.