Posted on October 12, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When the season began, the only people looking forward to the Week Six Jacksonville Jaguars-Los Angeles Rams game were diehard fans of those teams. Who else could care about a game between two of the worst teams in the NFL then fans of those teams? That could be their team’s first legitimate chance to win a game this season.
But then the craziest thing ended up happening. Leonard Fournette lived up to the hype. The Jags defense made some huge plays. Blake Bortles didn’t screw up too much. Jared Goff found his groove and started playing well. Todd Gurley got his mojo back.
In short, both the Rams and Jaguars are looking pretty good five games into the 2017 season. Shocker, right?
Jacksonville is actually leading the AFC South with a 3-2 record and is now the favorite to win the division (65.9 percent). They’ve never won the AFC South. They are accustomed to finishing at or near the bottom of the division. The last time they finished in second was back in 2010.
Los Angeles appears to have a shot to win the NFC West. But while they have a last place schedule like the Jags, they also have some competition in the division, the Seattle Seahawks. Houston and their injury-depleted defense is Jacksonville’s biggest competition, and they already beat the Texans once this year.
The Rams do have the second-best scoring offense this year (30.4 points/game). They were the top scoring unit until the Seahawks held them to just 10-points last week. Todd Gurley is third in the league in rushing. Jared Goff heads into this week seventh in passing yards and has a passer rating of 94.1.
When these two-former cellar-dwellers meet Sunday in Jacksonville, one will risk moving a step closer to sliding back into obscurity. A 3-2 record looks okay, but a 3-3 mark is a loss away from a losing record. With their respective histories, neither team wants to risk sliding back into those old habits.
Someone must lose. But who will it be?
Jacksonville is going to try to run the ball down the throat of the Los Angeles defense. The Rams haven’t been good at stopping the run this year, so they will look to enforce their will on Los Angeles behind the powerful legs of Leonard Fournette.
If they can, they will succeed in eating up a ton of time and taking away one of the Rams’ best offensive weapons, Todd Gurley’s rushing attack. Yes, they will still have to worry about him in the passing game. But the Jags are third in the league in passing yards allowed (178 yards/game).
But at the same time, the Rams could try the same thing. If they can get Todd Gurley on track early then, they can force the Jags to throw more than they’d like to keep up. The Rams defense is not as good as Jacksonville’s against the pass, but they aren’t bad (209 yards/game).
However, Blake Bortles has a history of screwing things up so the Jags would prefer not to put the game in his hands.
So— who’s going to win?
Oddsmakers favor Jacksonville by 2.5 points. It will be a close one that will likely come down to who makes the most or the last mistake. With the history that Blake Bortles has, it is not hard to imagine him making that mistake.
Take the Rams and the points.