The Los Angeles Rams take on the Las Vegas Raiders at home this Saturday night for the second of three preseason games. Most of the Rams starters will be taking it easy on the sideline, but for those that are fighting for a roster spot anything could happen. These are my four bold predictions for this weekend’s game.
Prediction #1: Bryce Perkins balls out
Perkins had the highlight of the week when he took a QB scramble to the right side of the field, stiff-armed a would be tackle, then made a defender completely whiff when he went airborne and landed gracefully for a Los Angeles Rams first down. He also had the lone Rams touchdown of the night with a red zone pass to Trishton Jackson.
The 2020 undrafted QB out of Virginia may have been stowed away on LA’s practice squad for the last year, but the Rams may not get that luxury this season thanks to Perkins’ electric performance against the Chargers. With four quarterbacks on the roster currently and John Wolford firmly cemented in the backup roll, Perkins is making a case for coach Sean McVay to keep a third QB on the active 53-man roster—the case will be even stronger in favor for Perkins this Saturday night against the Raiders.
Prediction: During a nationally-televised game the spotlight will be on Perkins, and he will make the most of his opportunities with a touchdown through the air and and another using his quick feet—good for 190 yards passing and another 40 yards on the ground with no picks. Though he will be splitting reps with Devlin Hodges it will be the Perkins show on Saturday night.
Prediction #2: Rams go run-heavy—Jake Funk is the leading back
I am doubling down on this prediction from last week—despite how awful the run game was against the Chargers—and am predicting a great game from Funk that begins to solidify him as Darrell Henderson’s backup this season. Xavier Jones got the starting nod last game and tied Raymond Calais for the most rushing attempts while also finishing first in yards for the running back room, though none of the backs really stood out due to some inconsistent blocking by the offensive line.
(01:40) “The run game was sloppy. It wasn’t very good it didn’t look clean. There was a couple of opportunities but for the most part I didn't think it was very good... There’s a lot of guys that haven’t gotten those full speed reps before—it’s no excuse, we have high expectations for those guys. Just the overall continuity... it takes all eleven in the run game,” McVay said in a press conference on Monday.
Prediction: This Saturday will be different as McVay will truly test what he has at the running back position when he works a run-heavy playbook for his offense. Though Xavier Jones will look decent, Funk will come out on top as he finds a hole and rips off a 20+ rush, finishing the game with 50 yards rushing and 20 yards receiving.
Prediction #3: Rams punter Corey Bojorquez makes a case to be the starter
Johnny Hekker is a four-time pro bowler, four first team all-pro punter that has served his entire eight year career with the Rams—he is also the highest paid punter in the NFL with a salary-cap number of $4.9 million. LA could free some cap-space by cutting Hekker by the beginning of the season and going with newly signed punter Bojorquez who reportedly has been impressive this offseason.
Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times writes, “Rams punter Corey Bojorquez boomed several punts” during Rams-Raiders joint practice on Wednesday. Hekker averaged 45.6 yards per punt in 2020, Bojorquez on the other hand averaged 50.8 yards per punt in the same year. Hopefully the Rams will not be punting too often against the Raiders, but if they do and Bojorquez gets some playing time to show off his leg there might be real competition for the starting role in LA and Hekker’s salary cap could be the deciding factor as Bojorquez is set to earn just $1 million this season.
(02:20) “Corey is a very very talented punter. He led the NFL in yards per punt last season. He’s been just building on that foundation that he had last season. He’s incredible, he’s pushed me everyday to be better. Watching his technique and his leg talent really makes me want to refine mine... the reality is teams only carry one [punter] so I think which ever one of us is going to be punting for the Rams the other guys going to be picked up very shortly there after,” explained Hekker in a press conference earlier this month.
Prediction: Bojorquez booms a few and continues to make a case to be an NFL punter ..at least, somewhere.
Prediction #4: Special teams takes a punt return to the house
The Rams have a lot of weapons on special teams when it comes to their return game and it will be on full display against the Raiders this Saturday. Against the Chargers Tutu Atwell showed off his speed on a great punt return which was unfortunately negated by a holding penalty while fellow return-mate Calais took his opportunity and exploded for a 46-yard return.
More than likely one of the two will be taking return duties in the regular season and an interesting battle may be had that no one was expecting. Regardless of who earns the job, watching the Rams return specialists will be fun this season and hopefully give the team consistent short-field opportunities. This Saturday though, it won’t be about the short-field situations, as Atwell or Calais takes one to the house and finishes the job themselves.
Prediction: Rams touchdown