The Los Angeles Rams (7-4) have arguably the NFL’s most talented roster but haven’t been competitive in a month. The Jacksonville Jaguars are talent-bereft, have lost all but two of their 11 games, and have some serious culture issues, starting with their head coach. So this is a weird matchup that on paper should be a get-right game for Los Angeles. But nothing has gone as expected in the NFL this season, particularly in the last few weeks.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Los Angeles Rams storylines
There are long, storied NFL rivalries. And then there are the Jaguars vs. the Rams, a matchup we’ll get for just the sixth time Sunday.
The Rams have won all but one of the previous five meetings, including a 27-17 result in Jacksonville in 2017. If you don’t live in SoCal or Duval, good luck finding it without the NFL Sunday Ticket. FOX is only airing this game because it’s contractually obligated to do so.
What’s up with the Rams’ offense?
Sean McVay needs a hug. His Ferrari has been in the shop for a month. But is the engine blown or simply in need of a tune-up?
Since Week 9, the Rams are 30th in expected points added (EPA) per dropback — ahead of only the Lions and Panthers. That’s inexcusable. Yes, losing Robert Woods hurts, but Matthew Stafford deserves much of the blame, even if McVay is loath to admit it. The only quarterback with a worse EPA + CPOE during the Rams’ three-game swoon? Trevor Lawrence.
“A couple of them were unfortunate things,” Stafford said when asked about his 5 interceptions — including 3 returned for touchdowns — during the Rams’ losing streak.
“A couple of them were bad mistakes on my part. Some of them were physical. … Just doing everything I can to look in the mirror and make sure I’m making sharp decisions every single play. And make sure that when I do put the ball in the air, it’s not in harm’s way. Trying to make sure that we’re still explosive and efficient and all of those kind of things while taking care of the football.”
Will Urban Meyer be one and done?
There’s a reason Urban Meyer’s name popped up repeatedly in connection with college jobs this fall. He’s done a bad job as an NFL head coach, and few believe he’s long for the NFL.
Sure, there’s the chance he comes back for a second year — no one wants to be viewed as a failure — but we wouldn’t at all be surprised if he and Jaguars owner Shad Khan decide to part ways in a few weeks. The culture there stinks, as we wrote last week, and significant changes are coming to the coaching staff, even it’s not at the top.
“I thought I knew what I was getting into,” Meyer said. “I knew [it] was putting together a staff, a roster. To say that I envisioned 2-9, I did not. I envisioned we would be a little cleaner team at this point. But I’ve coached a long time, studied this game a long time, I knew that week in week out, you’re facing the best players on the planet. But I thought we’d be a little cleaner by this point, certainly on offense.”
Do the Rams’ pieces on defense fit?
Von Miller was supposed to be the final piece to the Rams’ Super Bowl puzzle. He still might be. But there’s certainly cause for concern in L.A. given the club has allowed 95 points and ranks 25th in EPA per play in the three games since the Rams traded for him.
The biggest issue? Red-zone defense. The Rams have allowed touchdowns on 8 of 10 trips made inside the 20 by the Titans, 49ers, and Packers. Miller is still looking for his first sack and has just one quarterback hit since moving to the West Coast.
“If you watch closely, man, we were getting really, really, really good rushes, and I’m excited, man,” Miller said this week.
“It’s just taking a little bit more time than I anticipated. We wanted to come in and have a sack party, the first game we got back. It doesn’t happen like that, it’s pro sports, but I still got all the money on the Rams, I still got all the money on this Rams rush. I’m really excited to see what we do in the future.”
Jaguars vs. Rams betting line and game prediction
- Spread: Rams -12.5 (courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
- Moneyline: Rams -675, Jaguars +475
- Total: 47.5
Jaguars vs. Rams Prediction: Rams 34, Jaguars 12