The Los Angeles Rams (3-2) will travel cross country to face the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) on Sunday, October 15 (1:05 P.M. PT, FOX T.V.). Coming off a tough 16-10 loss at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, the Rams look to get back into the win column this week in Jacksonville, where they have a 2-0 record. The Jaguars own the league’s top defense, while the Rams possess one of the league’s best offenses. How do they stack up on paper?
QB Jared Goff vs Blake Bortles
Both quarterbacks play completely different roles for their respective teams. The Jaguars’ Blake Bortles manages the game, passing only when necessary. More importantly, Bortles’s job is to minimize the mistakes on offense. Bortles won’t set the world on fire. His numbers show that through five games. But he doesn’t need to win games through the passing game. The Jaguars offense centers on the running game.
Even though Goff and Bortles enter the game with the exact same number of touchdown passes heading into the game, Goff’s role is much different. Sean McVay’s offense focuses on the passing, and Goff throws the ball at a much higher efficiency. His numbers show that. Goff’s compiled 1,360 yards with a solid QBR of 94.1.
RB Todd Gurley vs Le0nard Fournette
This is the most intriguing positional matchup between the two teams. Gurley thrives both in open space and in-between the tackles, making him tougher to defend. He struggled in the Rams’ Week 5 loss, but the third-year Pro Bowler is still having quite the bounce-back season. Gurley has rushed for over 400 yards and scored seven touchdowns thus far. Give Gurley the space he needs, and will put up the numbers expected of him at this point. Jacksonville’s defense will face an uphill battle containing him if the Rams’ offensive line creates space.
The Rams defense must deal with the same issue concerning the Jaguars’ Leonard Fournette. The No. 4 pick in this year’s draft broke out last week at Pittsburgh, rushing for 181 yards and scoring two touchdowns. The former LSU Tiger is now focal point of the Jaguars’ rushing attack. Expect both teams to attempt to establish the running game early.
Who has the deeper receiving corps?
The Rams enter the game with the clear edge at the wide receiver position. This unit goes four-deep with Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods leading the way. Despite the Jaguars possessing some talent at the receiver position with players like Marquise Lee and Allen Hurns, Jacksonville’s offense focuses more on the running game. This is the biggest positional mismatch between the two teams. The Rams must take advantage of the talent edge they have in the receiving corps. Their tight ends even present problems for the Jaguars defense.
“The Mob Squad” or “Sacksonville?”
Both teams are loaded with talent on defense. The Rams enter the game having allowed only 22 points in the past six quarters. After a sluggish start, Los Angeles defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has elevated the Rams defense. In Seattle mustered only 275 yards of total offense in Week 5. Two weeks ago, the Rams held the Cowboys to six points in the second half of a comeback victory in Jerry World. Needless to say, the Rams defense appears ready to shine in Jacksonville.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions, with two returned for touchdowns, against the tough Jaguars defense. The team dubbed “Sacksonville” now sits atop the league in defensive pass yards allowed, sacks, interceptions, and opposing quarterback rating. The Jaguars make any offensive coordinator’s gameplan difficult to plan for.
Sources: Jaguars.com, ESPN.com, TheRams.com, NFL.com, Cole Pepper, NBC Jacksonville, Rich Hammond, OC Register.