The Los Angeles Rams have gone from Super Bowl favorites to potential pretenders after dropping three straight games in a row, yet in their sudden drop of a favor comes a light at the end of the tunnel.
That light is the (2-9) Jacksonville Jaguars who are to visit the Rams in their house this Sunday. Despite a steep plunge into the losing bracket, LA comes into the game as 12.5-point favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook as many believe this will be the Rams get right game of the season. For the sake of the season, let us hope that statement rings true by the end of the weekend.
Anything can happen on any given Sunday, but these are the four things I predict will go down as the Rams get set to take on the Jaguars.
Rams fail to cover the spread for the fourth week in a row
The Rams have yet to cover the spread since a Week 8 victory over the Houston Texans, despite allowing 22 unanswered points in the final quarter of the match. Against the Jaguars, LA opened as 13.5 favorites but as of Friday that number has dropped to 12.5. For the fourth week in a row, I predict Los Angeles fails to award their believers and come away ahead of the spread in Week 13.
That may not be a knock on the Rams either after putting up half-hearted losses all November long. “Any given Sunday” could not be a truer statement in the world of betting, because regardless of the teams that are playing, winning by two scores is hard to do. The Jaguars this season have been spread killers against good teams. In Week 4 they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals by just a field goal—the Bengals were 7.5 favorites. In Week 9 they brought down the rampaging Buffalo Bills in a six point victory in which they were underdogs by 14.5 points, and followed up their point covering ways in Week 10 against the Indianapolis Colts in a 23-17 defeat—the Colts had a 10 point advantage going into the game.
Even with just two wins this season, the Jaguars have played some of their best football against their toughest opponents, and I do not think that will change against the Rams.
Which is to mention that Los Angeles has not been the same team that started out the beginning of the season. In their last three games Sean McVay’s team has been plagued by turnovers, penalties, and an inability to execute on an elite level. The offense does not seem right without Robert Woods. Their star-studded defense has failed to make the game-defining play that they routinely made last season. Too often the team is shooting themselves in the foot with costly mistakes that they have not been able to overcome against better teams.
The Jaguars may be the “get right” game that LA so desperately needs to climb out of the dark hole they are currently in. That being said, though the Rams get the win, I predict they are not able enough to cover the spread.
Odell Beckham Jr. has his biggest game of the season
Odell Beckham Jr. appeared on the injury list late in the week and was limited in practice since Wednesday. During a Friday press conference, McVay expressed confidence that Beckham would be good to go against Jacksonville. With his availability seemingly unquestionable after sustaining a hip injury against the Green Bay Packers last week, there is a good chance that Beckham has his best game of the year in Week 13. My prediction: 150+ yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Beckham’s legacy in Los Angeles did not start out as Hollywood as many would have liked it too. His first game as a Ram was shadowed by Woods’ torn ACL, but last week against the Packers he showed immense progress in McVay’s scheme with five receptions that went for 86 yards and a touchdown. His 54 yard catch-and-run may have been the most exciting highlight of the game last week, and a foreshadow of things to come.
Stafford may be looking Beckham’s way early and often against a defense that is ranked dead last against the pass, leading to what should be a Hollywood performance from one of LA’s newest stars.
Tavon Austin scores against his former team
Tavon Austin was perhaps one of the most electric players in college football history with his combination of elite speed and rare elusiveness. In his senior year, he had 1,289 receiving yards, 643 rushing yards, and averaged 25.4 yards on punt returns. His ridiculous stats had many drooling in the NFL draft and was taken off of the board eighth overall in the 2013 draft by the St. Louis Rams.
When Tavon Austin put up 572 all-purpose yards vs. Oklahoma, but West Virginia still lost (2012) pic.twitter.com/CjAdbkzZWJ— CFB History (@CFB_History) September 26, 2021
Austin’s abilities never quite lived up to the hype at the speed of the NFL, however. A part from a terrific performance in a Week 10 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts his rookie season, a game that saw him put up 314 all purpose yards, his tenor with the Rams was forgettable. McVay’s first year as a head coach was also Austin’s last as he was let go after the 2017 season.
Initially picked up by the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, he has done little in the league after his departure from the team that drafted him. Fighting multiple injuries that have set him back, it would appear that Austin has finally found himself a home with the Jaguars. In Week 12 against the Atlanta Falcons, he recorded his first touchdown since 2019.
In Week 13 he will face his old team, the one that drafted him, the coach that could not utilize him, and the city that let him walk. A better script could not be written for Austin to get his second touchdown in as many games, and I predict that he will.
Trevor Lawrence finds himself on the ground—a lot
Trevor Lawrence's first season in the NFL has not been ideal, though most quarterbacks’ seasons that get drafted number one overall are not. This week, the rookie quarterback will be asked to test his fate against the likes of Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Leonard Floyd—all of which are hungry after only getting to their target twice in their last two games.
The defensive line’s recent drop-off in sack numbers can be contributed to matchups against veteran quarterbacks, as well as an inability to force teams into obvious passing downs. In their Week 10 defeat against the San Francisco 49ers, head coach Kyle Shanahan did not fear the Rams run defense and rushed the ball 44 times. Though they only averaged 3.54 yards a carry, the small gains on early downs allowed for simple 3rd-down-conversions.
This week the Rams D-line has an ideal matchup against an offensive line that has allowed 20 sacks this season, seven of which came in just the last three weeks. Their other advantage just may come from one of their newly acquired stars. Miller has already sacked Lawrence once this season in a Week 2 matchup while on the Denver Broncos.
Lawrence will be forced to get the ball out early and understand pre-snap coverages to help his offensive line hold strong. My prediction, that will not happen. Donald and Miller combine four a total of four sacks, while Floyd follows up with one of his own as the LA’s pass rush dominates with five total sacks.
It has been too long since Rams fans have celebrated a victory Monday. Will they finally get back into the win column this week? What are your bold predictions? Let me know in the comments below!