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Week 5 Preview: Los Angeles Rams face the Washington Football Team

Photo credit: Ashley Landis/AP photographer.

In a hard-fought defensive battle this past Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams (3-1) held off the New York Giants (0-4) in a slim 17-9 victory at SoFi Stadium. The Rams were heavy favorites to win, but the Giants stayed with them throughout the entire game. They had a stout defensive line and tight coverage. The Rams will need improve to earn a victory against Washington.

L.A. will face a 1-3 Washington Football Team whose only win was a 27-17 trouncing over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1. Their most recent loss was to the Baltimore Ravens, 31-17.

Washington faced a strong Lamar Jackson-led Ravens squad. They held well defensively for most of the first quarter. Then, the game got away from them after two touchdown grabs by tight end Mark Andrews and a 50-yard touchdown run by Jackson. Washington had two rushing scores by running back Antonio Gibson and quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

Gibson led in rushing against the Ravens with 13 carries for 46 yards and one touchdown. He had more receiving yards with 82 on four catches. For the season, Gibson has 44 carries for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Running backs J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber also add depth to the Washington backfield. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin led in receiving with 10 catches for 118 yards.  For the season, he has 26 receptions for 387 yards. The Rams will also need to watch receiver Dontrelle Inman and tight end Logan Thomas.

One twist in the upcoming Rams-Washington matchup is that Haskins will be benched for backup Kyle Allen. This is after Haskins had his career best 32 completions on 45 attempts for 314 yards. Haskins had no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was sacked three times and has four fumbles in four games.

Allen’s last game was with the Carolina Panthers in Week 17 of 2019. He replaced an injured Cam Newton in Week 3. Allen threw 303 completions on 489 attempts for 3,322 yards and 17 touchdowns for the season. He was also sacked 46 times, had 13 fumbles and 16 interceptions. He will be tested against a tough Rams defensive backfield starring cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey, Troy Hill and Darious Williams, as well as, safeties John Johnson and Taylor Rapp. Though Jordan Fuller appears healthy enough to return as the starter over Rapp. The Rams defensive line per usual will feature Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and Sebastian Joseph-Day. Donald leads the Rams with three and a half sacks and four and half tackles for loss. The Rams overall have 12 sacks for the season. Look for strong pressure on Allen.

The Rams are struggling at the linebacker position. Both Micah Kiser and Kenny Young suffered injuries against the Giants and are day-to-day. Kiser leads the Rams with 32 tackles, but there were also several missed tackles against New York. The safeties stepped up to stop big runs from breaking out further into open space. The linebacker corps continues to be a concern as the Rams attempt to figure out how to replace and strengthen the middle and edge rushing. The Rams did have a season-high five sacks against the Giants and held them to only three field goals. Overall, the defense is favored to hold Washington as they are weak on third down conversions.

The Rams offense will need to learn to recover from mistakes like the Gerald Everett fumble that set up a Giants field goal in the beginning of the second quarter. Tight end Everett had just completed his first rushing touchdown on a jet sweep around left end for 2 yards. The Rams will also need to get more creative in their play calling to move the ball downfield. They struggled with this against the Giants for nearly two quarters. Running back Darrell Henderson still leads the Rams in rushing with 43 carries for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Malcolm Brown has 45 carries for 183 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams are expected to have Cam Akers back in the backfield rotation after recovering from a rib injury suffered in Week 2. Although, it still isn’t certain which RB will have the bulk of the carries.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff had a solid game with 25 completions on 32 attempts for 200 yards and one touchdown. That one touchdown was to wide receiver Cooper Kupp for 55 yards, giving the Rams breathing room for the impending win.

Kupp is still the Rams receiving leader with 23 catches for 297 yards. Tight end Tyler Higbee still leads in touchdown receptions with three. Robert Woods is second in receiving with 19 catches for 229 yards.

The Rams offense will need to keep an eye on linebacker Jon Bostic, cornerback Kendall Fuller and safety Landon Collins. Bostic leads Washington with 37 tackles and Fuller has two interceptions. Collins has 22 tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss. Defensive tackle Jonathan Allen leads the line with 19 tackles and has 1.5 sacks. Almost the entire defensive line has contributed to a total of ten sacks. The Rams O-line may have a challenge, but they should be able to move the ball well on the ground. Protection for Goff will be key against the Washington defensive front.

The Rams are favored, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. They will need to have reliable offensive production if they wish to move on to 4-1 on the season. Kickoff is scheduled at 10 a.m. PT on Fox.

Sources:  theramswire.usatoday.comespn.com, pro-football-reference.com

You can follow Erik Ho on Twitter @EHoinSDLVLA. Be sure to follow Rams Talk on Twitter @TalkRams.

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