Ascending Rams seek to ground winless Jets
The Los Angeles Rams could receive their Christmas gift a bit early, in the form of a game on Sunday against the winless New York Jets.
The meeting will come at home for Los Angeles, which is deep in a battle for an NFC West title.
The Rams (9-4), who missed the playoffs last year after going to the Super Bowl the year before, are not overlooking the Jets (0-13), who are two-touchdown underdogs.
“The difference between winning teams and losing teams is razor thin,” Rams receiver Cooper Kupp said. “There’s too many great football players and too many great coaches in this league to ever take any team for granted.”
The Rams would prefer to be on solid footing heading into a collision for the division title next weekend at Seattle. The Rams and Seahawks are tied for the top spot in the NFC West, with Los Angeles defeating its rival earlier this season.
The Jets have long been ousted from playoff consideration, but they haven’t been a complete walkover on their road to an 0-13 record. The Las Vegas Raiders needed a touchdown pass with five seconds remaining for a Dec. 6 victory. New York also put together a late rally against the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 22 only to fall short in a 34-28 setback.
That loss against the Chargers came in the same Southern California venue where Sunday’s game will take place. The Rams are 5-1 in their new $5 billion shared stadium, though that one defeat did come to a team with a losing record: the San Francisco 49ers.
Since that Week 12 loss, the Rams have pushed past the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots, with last Thursday’s victory over New England yet another impressive defensive performance.
The Rams head into Week 15 leading the NFL in yards allowed per game (285.8), while they are third in both points allowed (18.9) and total sacks (42).
On offense, quarterback Jared Goff is eighth in yards passing per game (269.9), while running back Cam Akers is coming off a 171-yard performance. Akers is the first Rams rookie to run for more than 160 yards in a game since Jerome Bettis in 1993.
Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, a Southern California alum, will return home this weekend but a cordial welcome is not expected. The Rams’ defense is also No. 1 against the pass at 191.7 yards per game.
Darnold will enter off a 132-yard, no-touchdown passing performance at Seattle last weekend, against a Seahawks defense that allows an NFL-worst 294.8 yards against the pass. The Jets are second worst at 286.8.
“It’s not just (Darnold), it also has to be the guys around him,” Jets coach Adam Gase said about earning victory No. 1. “Everyone has to do their job, linebackers, running backs, wide receivers. He can make the right decision on reads, but he can’t catch it and make the guys be in the right spots. He’s the easy guy to blame. (You) need 11.”
Jets receiver Jamison Crowder (calf) did not practice Wednesday, while linebacker Jordan Jenkins (shoulder) was placed on injured reserve and is done for the season. Darnold (ankle) was on Wednesday’s injury report but was a full participant in practice.
Rams linebacker Terrell Lewis (knee), who has missed the last three games, was back at practice Wednesday. Receiver Robert Woods (thigh) missed practice but is expected to play Sunday.
–Field Level Media