Preview of Week 15 Matchup – The New York Jets versus the Los Angeles Rams: Four Point Stance

by Rick Harriman
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The New York Jets (0-13) travel to So-Fi Stadium to face the Los Angeles Rams (9-4) on Sunday, 12/20 at 4:05 ET.  This will be the second week in a row that the Jets have had to travel to the West coast.  The Rams go into this game as 17.5-point favorites according to MGM with an over/under of 43.5.  A win for the Rams this week guarantees a playoff berth.

1st Stance: Offense

The Jets are on pace to finish 0-16, which is harder to do than it sounds.  Only 10 teams have gone winless in NFL history, of those only two have gone 0-16 (2008 Detroit Lions and 2017 Cleveland Browns).  For this to happen, there really needs to be cataclysmic issues within the organization, and that perfectly describes the Jets.  On offense, they are last in total yards (3,507, 269.8/g), passing yards (2,159, 166.1/g) and total points (183, 14.1/g).  They have had some success in the running game, 1,348 yards and 103.7 yards/g, good for 21st in the league.

Here is the train wreck: ranked last in the league, it is hard to find a bright spot.  QB Sam Arnold has struggled and when he went down, his backup (Joe Flacco) did not fare any better.  The O-line has been inconsistent, the receiving core is missing Robby Anderson (FA loss in the offseason) and the run game is bottom half of the league.  They recently released their defensive coordinator (Gregg Williams) and the front office is looking at draft positioning

In week 15, experts are trying to put a label on the Rams offense.  This is far from the “Greatest Show on Turf”.  Without a real identity on offense, it seems that coach Sean McVay is good with the idea that no one can figure them out.  There are a few things that we know of the offense:

The Rams offense is ranked 5th in total yards (5,062, 389.4 – down from 3rd overall from last week).  The passing game is ranked 12th at 3,386 yards (260.5 yds/g, down from 5th overall last week).  The Run DMC game is now 8th (up from 9th last week) at 128.9 yds/g.  This balanced attack is exactly what McVay wants to keep defenses on their toes.

Jared Goff is on the cusp of breaking the Rams record for number of wins in a 4-year span at 41, with a win this week he would pass Rams legend Roman Gabriel (@RGabriel4HOF).  Goff is polarizing to fans and pundits alike.  I recently heard Mina Kimes (@minakimes) compare him to a turkey sandwich – the point being that he is not good on his own and needs good pieces around him to make a quality meal (I think?!?) – and I would argue that is the case for most quarterbacks.  Even fans are somewhat divided, but the majority think he is their guy:

Congratulations to Cam Akers (@thereal_cam3) for NFC Offensive Player of the week:

The Rams have a huge advantage on offense.  The only drama here is to see which weapons are unleashed in this matchup.

2nd Stance: Defense

The Jets defense is good against the run at 12th in the league (1,467 yds, 112.8 yd/g), but the good news ends there.  They are 31st against the pass (3,728 yds, 286.6 yd/g), 30th in total yards (5,195 yds, 399.6 yd/g) and 31st in totals points (393, 30.2/g).   The defense has not been good all season, but last week was one of their worst performances.  The defense looked lost in week 14 by all accounts. They allowed 40 points on 5 TDs and 410 total yards.

The Rams are a completely different picture as they are building wins around the defense.  The Rams organization is known for execution on offense, but 2020 is different.  Led by a stellar cast and a new defensive mindset, the Rams defense in the best overall in the league.  Coach Brandon Staley has this group leading in total yards and passing yards, third in rushing yards and total points.

One of my favorite lines from The Avengers is “We have a Hulk”.  Apparently, so do the Rams:

The best play from last week was the pick 6 by Kenny Young; not only was it timely in stopping a major drive from the Patriots, but Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald led the blocking.  What is not shown is Coach McVay also sprinting up the sideline, a total team effort:

Again, the Rams have an overwhelming advantage comparing the two defense.  It would be a surprise to see the Jets in the end zone, unless it is a for a safety.

3rd Stance: Special Teams

Neither team is particularly good in the special teams, but recent changes in both staff are showing a trend in different directions.

The Jets are having late season kicking issues; they are onto their third kicker of the season as Sergio Castillo hit only 1 of 4 FG attempts last week and was subsequently let go.  Their first kicker, Sam Ficken (previously with the Rams), has been down with an injured groin and could return this week.  As security, the Jets signed Chase McLaughlin – his seventh NFL team since 2019.  A career journeyman, McLaughlin is a respectable 22 of 28 on his career and recently hit 4 of 5 in three games with Jacksonville.

The Rams seem to be finding their stride lately in most aspects of special teams after more than half of a season searching for some consistency.  Also on their third kicker, Matt Gay has really stepped in and made a difference.  Although not perfect, Gay has improved in every aspect over previous kickers and has given confidence back to the kicking game that was previously missing.

4th Stance: Intangibles

  • Coaching – Sean McVay versus Adam Gase. Without hyperbole, this is a very wide gap.  Gase is 30-48 (1 playoff loss) as a head coach.  Mcvay is 44-21 (2-2 in the playoffs) and has been to a Super Bowl.  They have never faced each other as head coaches.  When Gase was hired as the coach for Miami, he was considered by many as an offensive genius and the original ‘McVay’.  Realistically, this only person that ever compare the two was Gase himself.
  • Trend/Mojo – Yet to win a game, the Jets could not have a lower trend. The Rams have major mojo but have yet to win 3 in a row this season – on this note, a win for either team changes a trend.
  • Post of the week from Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) – If you are not following Jourdan, you are missing out, she is the BEST.  If you are not subscribing to The Athletic, you are REALLY missing out as she goes deep into Rams coverage that you should not miss.  I went with an off-the-field tweet this week because it is so awesome:
  • “RAM”dom info from the week:
    • A Rams win guarantees that Jourdan will be writing about her Rams during her birthday month
    • A Rams win this week and next week against the Seahawks and the Rams will win the NFC West
    • The point spread in this game is the highest for the Rams since the 2002 season (18-point favorites vs Carolina). When favored by more than 15, the Rams are undefeated this century.
    • The Rams will have had 10 days rest before the kickoff of this game and are looking to get some players back to the field from injury (see injury report below).
    • It’s time for the apologies to start flowing into the Rams front office – nice work here Rich Hammond (@Rich_Hammond)
    • Rams by the numbers:

Prediction

The Rams will win big and clinch a playoff spot.  Final score will be 37-6 and the Rams defense will be good for at least one score this game.

Bonus – I’ll add to my Christmas list from last week:

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