The Rams have a tough matchup this week, traveling across the country to Jacksonville after a devastating defeat at home. It’s a spot a lot of teams get caught sleeping in, with a trip to London looming next week. That being said, it’s certainly a winnable game, and there’s several things the Rams can do to ensure victory. Here they are:
Make Blake Bortles throw as much as possible
As we detailed in our Jaguars breakdown, Jacksonville wants to run an old-fashioned offense. This consists of Leonard Fournette running between the tackles. The Rams will need to disrupt what is sure to be a run-heavy game plan by making Bortles, still one of the league’s worst quarterbacks despite his average start, attempt as many passes as possible. In the Jaguars three wins, Bortles has averaged just 22 pass attempts. In their two losses, he’s averaged 34.5 pass attempts. There’s a clear negative correlation between how often Bortles passes the ball and how well their offense performs. If the Rams can jump out to an early lead and force the Jaguars to actually pass the ball, they should be in very good shape.
Win in the trenches
This game is expected to be a low scoring affair, and currently has the third lowest over/under of any game this weekend. Both teams will likely be scared to pass the ball and will be trying to run as much as possible. Because this game will likely be won and lost on the ground, it’s going to come down to the lines on both sides of the ball. The Rams defense seems to have the advantage in that the Jaguars best offensive lineman, center Brandon Linder, will not play. Aaron Donald and the whole defensive line will need to take advantage of his absence. If they can do that and the Rams offensive line can win the line of scrimmage as well, they can get a win.
Get Cooper Kupp involved
The Jaguars have an extremely stingy pass defense. They are allowing the lowest passer rating to opposing quarterbacks by a fairly large margin. Since the success of the offense will largely depend on Todd Gurley, the Rams will have to pick their occasional spots in the passing game wisely. They’d be best served by not asking Jared Goff to do too much, and as such should get Kupp involved heavily in the short to intermediate game. The Jaguars secondary is elite, and when Ben Roethlisberger tried to challenge them vertically last week, he ended up tossing five interceptions. The Rams aren’t going to beat the Jaguars by chucking up deep balls, so hopefully Kupp has a big day over the middle.
Those are the keys to a Rams victory. Making Bortles throw as much as possible is probably the most important one, since he can be a turnover machine when he gets enough chances. If the Rams can do just two of these three things successfully, they should be in great position to get a fourth win and sole possession of first place in the NFC West back.