Los Angeles Rams: Three key matchups vs. New York Jets

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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Facing an inferior team can be labeled a so-called ‘trap game’, which is exactly what the Los Angeles Rams will take part in during Week 15. The Rams are set to host the winless New York Jets at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, with Los Angeles wanting to avoid being the first team to suffer a loss to the team sporting green in New York.

Coming into this contest, the Rams still have their dominant performance against the New England Patriots in Week 14 fresh on their mind. Sean McVay finally got his revenge — in a sense — on Bill Belichick. The offense of the Rams was able to cruise to an easy victory riding the shoulders of their run game, which was led once again by rookie Cam Akers.

On the other side of the game, the Jets have been an absolute mess, losing by a season-worst 37 points to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14. Given where both of these teams are, it’s apparent that both of them are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to talent.

Despite Los Angeles coming into this game as double-digit favorites, there are still positional battles that could incite some intrigue on Sunday. Provided that, let’s take a deeper look at a few matchups that can make watching this assumed lopsided tilt worth it.

Robert Woods vs. Bryce Hall

Throughout the season, McVay has shown a tendency to ask less of Jared Goff and the passing attack, while leaning on his dynamic rushing attack. That theme remained true in Week 14, with Akers galloping for a career-best 171 rushing yards against the Patriots.

At the same time, Goff threw for only 137 yards on 25 pass attempts, which limited the production of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. However, even though the Rams will likely deploy a heavy dose of Akers again in Week 15, New York boasts the No. 8 ranked run defense in terms of DVOA.

In light of that, Woods and the pass-catchers should be able to take advantage of the worst pass defense DVOA in the NFL on Sunday. More specifically, Woods is poised to dominate his impending matchup with Bryce Hall.

Hall, the standout rookie cornerback out of Virginia, has allowed 24 receptions in the 32 times he’s been targeted. The rookie fifth-round pick has also given up a 110.1 passer rating when targeted in the passing game. All signs point toward Woods and Hall being a matchup that the Rams are expecting to win in Week 15.

Rams’ IOL vs. Quinnen Williams

If there is a player on the Jets that could single-handedly make life a bit more difficult on the Rams, it is unquestionably Quinnen Williams. Williams has solidified his status as New York’s best player, proving why he was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

In his second season in the NFL, Williams is displaying that he could be a premier interior defensive lineman for years to come, notching 13 quarterback hits, nine tackles for loss, six sacks, and two forced fumbles. The Alabama product has also logged 19 pressures, which is only two fewer than DeForest Buckner.

For the second consecutive season, McVay has done a remarkable job masking the deficiencies of the offensive line for the Rams. Heading into Week 15, Goff has been sacked on only 3.5 percent of his attempts, which is the sixth-best among qualified quarterbacks in the NFL.

What makes Williams such a special talent is that he’s also a formidable run defender. Regardless of the discrepancy in records, the interior offensive line of the Rams is going to have their work cut out for them in containing Williams.

Cam Akers vs. New York’s front seven

Over the course of the season, the Rams have deployed all of their running backs differently in certain weeks. But in recent weeks, it’s been Akers that has gotten — to the delight of fans in Los Angeles — the bulk of the carries in the backfield.

Altogether, in his first eight games as a rookie, Akers saw only 50 attempts for 201 yards. Comparatively, in his past three games, the Florida State star has accounted for 327 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 59 attempts, including a breakout outing of 171 rushing yards in Week 14 versus New England.

Barring an unforeseen change, Akers should continue being the No. 1 back for the Rams in Week 15 against the Jets. Once again, New York has the eighth-ranked DVOA run defense in the league, limiting ball-carriers to a measly 3.9 yards per attempt, which is tied for the fourth-fewest in the NFL.

Nevertheless, McVay’s new-look rushing attack with Akers leading the way should continue running rampant on opposing defense, regardless of the matchup. Look for Akers to be utilized early and often, allowing the Rams to expedite their clash with the Jets.

 

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