Los Angeles Rams: Top Three ‘X-Factors’ For the Playoffs

by Blaine Grisak
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The Los Angeles Rams are in the postseason for the fourth time in the last five years. When it comes to postseason success, it’s always about what a team gets out of its stars, but out of it’s second and third-tier players. For example, when the Rams made the Super Bowl in 2018, they wouldn’t have gotten there without Nickel Robey-Coleman. Last season, Scotty Miller and Sean Murphy-Bunting made plays to take Tampa Bay to the Super Bowl.

Here are three players that are most likely to do that for the Los Angeles Rams over the next four games.

Odell Beckham Jr.

The Los Angeles Rams are 4-1 this season when Odell Beckham Jr. scores a touchdown. Facing better teams, the Rams can expect defenses to try and take away Cooper Kupp. Somebody outside of Kupp is going to need to step up. Beckham Jr. has come up big when the Rams have called on his number this season.

Against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13, Beckham had six receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown to help lead the Rams to a 30-23 win. Against the Baltimore Ravens, it was Beckham who made the fourth down catch to keep the game-winning touchdown drive alive.

Van Jefferson could certainly be put here as well. Jefferson has been a very good depth threat for the Rams and even scored on a such play against Arizona. However, Beckham has the game-breaking ability that is made for the postseason. Beckham hasn’t played a postseason game since 2017. Look for the Rams to unload their playbook and get Beckham more involved in the offense.

Cam Akers/Sony Michel

Cam Akers’ comeback is incredible. To come back from an Achilles tear as fast as he did is nothing short of superhuman. Akers wouldn’t have come back either if the coaching staff didn’t believe that they could use him. Akers had five carries last week, but don’t be surprised if that was just the Rams working Akers back into the offense.

The Los Angeles Rams running back dominated in the postseason last year. As a rookie he had 131 yards and the Rams rode Akers to a playoff victory against the Seattle Seahawks. He also had 90 yards against the Packers.

Don’t rule out Sony Michel either, however, Michel has stepped up in the postseason in the past. In 2018, the New England Patriots rode Michel to the Super Bowl. Michel had 24 carries for 129 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-28 win over the Chargers. The following week in the AFC Championship game, Michel had 29 carries for 113 yards and two touchdown in a 37-31 win over the Chiefs. Rams fans likely remember that he then had 94 yards and the only touchdown in the Super Bowl to beat the Rams. 

In 2018, the Rams rode Todd Gurley and CJ Anderson to the Super Bowl. The duo combined for 238 yards on the ground to beat the Dallas Cowboys. Running the football and playing physical becomes imminent in the playoffs. Teams must be able to do it. The Cardinals have given up over 100 yards in three of their last four games. Expect the Rams to try and exploit that this week.

Greg Gaines

Running the football and stopping the run become focal points once playoff football starts. Greg Gaines has been a staple in the middle of the Los Angeles Rams defensive line since taking over for Sebastian Joseph-Day. Gaines ranks sixth in the NFL in ESPN’s run-stop win rate statistic.

Gaines has also done a good job getting after the passer as he has totaled 4.5 sacks and four tackles for loss. The defensive lineman out of Washington isn’t a big name, but he’s someone that can benefit by playing next to Aaron Donald. As a nose tackle, he’s done a great job eating space on the defensive line.

Against the Baltimore Ravens, Gaines made a huge stop near the goal-line to keep the Ravens out of the end zone. Without that stop, the Rams likely lose the game. Gaines is a name worth keeping an eye on in the postseason and don’t be surprised if he comes up with a big stop at some point.

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