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Rams-Texans: 4 Bold Predictions for Sunday’s Week 8 matchup

Aaron Donald goes off, Matthew Stafford goes to work, and Johnny Hekker doesn’t in this week’s predictions!

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams came out of last week’s game with a victory in a close one against a winless Detroit Lions team.

Read that again.

The Lions gave everything they had last Sunday in hopes of making a statement — which included a fake kickoff that was successful, two successful fake punts, and a 63 yard screen pass that went for a touchdown.

So despite the fact that the Rams are favored by 15.5 points at DraftKings Sportsbook as of Friday morning, ANYTHING could happen this Sunday against the hapless Houston Texans.

These are four of the bolder takes on what could happen this weekend against the Texans.

Stafford takes over as passing leader

The marriage between coach Sean McVay and quarterback Matthew Stafford seems to have exceeded all expectations as the Rams head into Week 8 as one of the top contenders in the NFC. Stafford enters the game third in total pass yards (2,172) behind Tom Brady (2,275) and Derek Carr (2269).

Stafford is also putting up big numbers with significantly less attempts. Brady leads the NFL with 303 passes while Stafford only has 241 and is second best in the NFL with an average of nine yards per pass attempt while also boasting a quarterback rating of 116.7 compared to Brady’s rating of 108.2. With half the season nearly gone by Stafford is in a position to potentially make a run at the MVP but this week the veteran quarterback also has an opportunity to take over as the lead passer in the NFL. I predict that he will.

The Rams will face their third team in a row as a double-digit favorites this season. The Houston Texans currently rank 29th in net yards per pass attempt allowed, 26th in yards allowed, and 27th in points allowed—in other words the Houston defense is outright bad. Though there has only been one quarterback to throw over 300 yards on them (Trevor Lawrence in Week 1) much of the reason is because of their inability to stop the run. Out of the seven teams they have faced six of them had over 100 yards total rushing and four of those games included 150 yards or more on the ground from their opposition.

Stafford has an advantageous matchup against one of the leagues worst while Brady takes on one of the better defenses in the New Orleans Saints. The Saints have yet to surrender a 300+ yard passer this season and held Aaron Rodgers to just 151 pass yards in Week 1. Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders will be taking the week off on their bye leaving the perfect opportunity for the quarterback of the Rams to take over as the lead passer.

Ernest Jones justifies the departure of Kenny Young

In what will go down as one of the bigger surprises in Rams news this season Kenny Young was traded on Monday to the Denver Broncos in a move to create cap space as the NFL gets closer to the trade deadline on November 2nd. Young was enjoying one of his best seasons as a Ram from a statistical standpoint with 27 total combined tackles and two sacks in seven games. The news this week has left the fanbase split on the Rams decision to move on from the starting linebacker but Sunday’s contest will shed some light on if it was the correct decision halfway through the season.

Young’s departure means a big test for rookie LB Earnest Jones who may just need to play like Alec Ogletree once did to justify the trade. I believe Jones will do just that and lead the Rams in tackles by the end of the game against the Texans.

Jones has yet to get much action this season but his most active game was in Week 6 against the New York Giants. He played 35 percent of the defensive snaps and had five total tackles in the little time he played but it appeared to be just enough to win the Rams coaches over. His development in practice since the beginning of training camp may have been the deciding factor to move on from Young.

More than likely it will take a group effort to fill the hole created from the trade this Monday, but with his coaches backing him and his first real action in the NFL Jones will play with a motivated step against the Texans.

Johnny Hekker takes the day off

With Stafford at the helm the Rams boast one of the best offenses in the NFL which has meant little action for Johnny Hekker. After seven games Hekker is dead last in both punts (18) and punt yards (748) as LA’s offense has been both electric and efficient in nearly every game ranking third in total points scored. In three games this season the Rams have only had to punt the ball once.

A lot of the success can be predicated on Stafford’s continued growth within McVay’s quarterback friendly system that once made Jared Goff look like an MVP candidate. With big play potential on nearly every snap Los Angeles is constantly in a position to score, which is why I am predicting that Hekker does not punt a single time on Sunday as the Rams score early and often.

Donald has his first three sack game of the year

Aaron Donald has not shown up on the stat sheet much this season, only totaling three and a half sacks thus far but do not let that take away what he does for the Rams defense. Donald is an absolute wrecking ball every game and forces added attention that gives his other teammates opportunities to win their one on ones. In Week 7 Donald had potentially the play of the game when he forced himself up the middle and pressured Jared Goff in to a bad throw that was intercepted when the Lions were in a position to score and take the lead.

For all the attention the Donald gets with double and even triple teams on gameday he consistently finds a way to make impactful plays to put his team into a position to win games and this Sunday I predict he puts together a defensive master piece when he finished the match with three sacks.

The Texans have not done the best job keeping their quarterback upright in 2021. After taking over the starting quarterback position in Week 2 Davis Mills has been sacked 15 times in just six games, four of which came against the Carolina Panthers in Week 3.

In 2020 Donald only had one game with three or more sacks and that was against the Washington Football Team in Week 5 where he finished with four. Without his breakout game this season Donald will enjoy his best game of 2021 against the Texans. Whoever lines up at quarterback on Sunday, I wish you well.

What are your predictions this Sunday? Let me know in the comments below!