JACKSONVILLE – Each week during the 2021 season, Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will analyze the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They're plus-two. I've been true to the formula I think is required for the Jaguars to win for weeks – and there's no reason to think any differently. The offense has averaged 11 points a game since the bye week, and they're going to outscore the Rams? The defense must create takeaways and give the Jaguars easy opportunities if they're to give themselves a chance. If it makes any difference, the Rams have seven turnovers during their current three-game losing streak and are minus-five in those games.
The Rams will win if: They make life difficult for quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Of course, with defensive tackle Aaron Donald, linebackers Von Miller and Leonard Floyd and cornerback Jalen Ramsey, that's entirely likely.
As Sexton sees it: This will be a very long day for the Jaguars. I can't find a matchup that favors the visitors; the Rams have star players on both sides of the ball, and the Jaguars do not.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They force Rams mistakes and play significantly better offensively than they have played thus far this season. The Jaguars' offense showed incremental improvement last week with three drives of more than 70 yards. They must piece together a few of those Sunday and add in an explosive play or two to have a chance.
The Rams will win if: They run well and get impact plays from their defensive playmakers. The Rams' offense hasn't been as explosive since losing wide receiver Robert Woods to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but they have stars defensively that can dominate games. They're good enough defensively to change the game with that matchup Sunday.
As Oehser sees it: The Jaguars' season has mostly been difficult matchups. That's the reality when the offense struggles to get into the 20s. A road game against a playoff contending team – and one that very much needs to win to snap a three-game losing streak – is probably too tough a test.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jags will win if: They score 27 or more points. This is getting simple. If you don't score, you won't win. The Jaguars have been terrible on offense when it comes to finding points. There are a lot of reasons – and even excuses – but it's a major problem. I think the Jaguars' defense can hold the Rams enough to give the Jaguars a chance to win - but only if they find the end zone more than they have all season.
The Rams will win if: They avoid a sloppy turnover margin. The Jaguars pulled off one of the season's biggest upsets by beating the Buffalo Bills in part because of turnovers. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has been a mess the last few weeks. If the Rams protect the ball, they are the much better team.
As Martineau sees it: The Jaguars have trouble out west, can't score and don't have the talent level of the Rams. I don't have a good feeling about this one. Los Angeles is so much better than it has played recently. I think the Jaguars will be more competitive than most think, but in the end, it will be a 34-20 Rams win.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com senior reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They force takeaways and set up a couple of short fields for the Jaguars' offense. The Jaguars are last in the league in takeaways this season (five interceptions, one fumble). Stafford has thrown five interceptions during the Rams' current three-game losing skid.
The Rams will win if: They slow the Jaguars' running game and get the Jaguars into predictable down-and-distance situations. Donald, Miller and Floyd lead the pass rush for the Rams, and it will be the best pass-rushing group the Jags face this season. Ramsey is back there and still making plays.
As Shadrick sees it: The Jags historically have struggled on the West Coast, but good teams travel well – and underperforming teams can underperform in any time zone. The Jaguars have not played a true complete game this year. One week the defense plays well, but the offense struggles. Another week, the special teams units commit key penalties. The next week, the offense runs the ball, but the defense isn't slowing down the opponent or taking the ball away. Until the Jaguars play close to a perfect complementary game, it will continue to be a grind.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jags will win if:They run the ball and somehow get a lead. That might be tougher without running back James Robinson, who might be dinged. And they must harass Stafford as they did quarterback Josh Allen of Buffalo. That led to their biggest win of the year.
The Rams will win if:They take away the run, and turn Miller and Donald and Co. loose on Lawrence. Offensively, Stafford must take better care of the ball. He has thrown a Pick Six three weeks in a row.
As Frangie sees it:The Rams, like the Jaguars, have lost three games in a row and are worked up because of it. And Ramsey will ensure they know how important this one is to him. This is a tough challenge for the Jaguars.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They have a performance just like the Buffalo Bills game where the defense is on point and the offense scores just enough. The Jaguars' offense must bloody the nose of the Rams' defense and take away what their star players do best. They can do that by running the football time after time with success and keeping Donald, Miller and Ramsey from having a predictable passing situation. The Jaguars' offensive line must play really well – and Lawrence must be accurate and efficient without turning the ball over.
The Rams will win if: They keep the Jaguars' defense a little off balance by running with a little success. The Jaguars over the last three games have allowed 447 yards rushing on 98 carries, their worst three-game stretch against the run this season. Los Angeles will look to have its Top 5 passing offense hit big plays as the Rams have 44 pass completions of 20-plus yards. Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is the NFL's top wide receiver and clearly has a rhythm with Matt Stafford. Newly arrived wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is still working on his chemistry with Stafford, but last week showed he still has major skills with five receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown.
As Lageman sees it: This will be a tough game for the Jaguars as they continue to try to find success offensively. Scoring only 57 points in the last five games is not the kind of momentum you want to carry out west to face a Sean McVay offense scoring 27.2 points per game. The Rams also will be looking to get back on the winning side of things at home after dropping their last three games to playoff-caliber teams. Lawrence must be a star with his legs and his arm for the Jaguars to have a chance. The Jaguars must play much better as a team and not continue to commit self-inflicted wounds to win.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Jaguars team reporter
The Jaguars will win if: The Rams aren't prepared to defend a "new" Jaguars offense. The theme this week has been all about incorporating more run-pass options and hurry-up plays into the Jaguars playbook. Head Coach Urban Meyer mentioned the challenge will be executing this offense now that there is some tape with the Jaguars running this offense last week. If they can get creative, maybe that sparks some much-needed points?
The Rams will win if: They attack the Jaguars' secondary. The Jaguars' defensive line has been playing well and should be able to stop the Rams' rushing attack. What is worrisome is Los Angeles' passing weapons, especially with Jaguars starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin out. This is a big test for rookie cornerback Tyson Campbell to defend Rams wide receivers Van Jefferson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp. If the Rams get momentum with explosive passing plays, I do not see how the Jaguars stop them.
As Sullivan sees it: I cannot predict this game will be even close. The Jaguars never play well on the West Coast and the Rams are a desperate team that really needs a win. Not to mention the total difference with the talent on each roster. The Rams have paid the price to have a star-studded roster and it will pay off for them this week.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They make big plays on defense. Stafford has thrown a Pick 6 in three straight games. Los Angeles isn't a good running team, so the Rams will pass first. Jacksonville must force turnovers to pull the upset.
The Rams will win if: They start fast. L.A. is reeling, losing three straight, so this is an important game for the Rams. Miller and Donald have 201 career sacks and will present a problem for Jacksonville's offensive line and Lawrence. The Jaguars have been down early in their last three games, so McVay will do all he can to get his team to start fast.
As Ballou sees it: Ramsey will get plenty of attention in this one and he'll love it. Even though the Jaguars' front office and coaches are gone from Ramsey's era, look for him to have a statement type game and the Rams to pick up their eighth win of the year.
See how to Watch, Stream & Listen to Sunday's game against the Rams.