|1:05 PM PT2:05 PM MT3:05 PM CT4:05 PM ET20:05 GMT4:05 1:05 PM MST3:05 PM EST3:05 PM CT0:05 UAE (+1)16:05 ETNaN:� , October 15, 2017|
EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida Weather: 88°, Clear Attendance: 56,232
Rams face Jaguars to begin road trek
Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars
- The Rams fell to 3-2 after losing to the Seahawks at home, 16-10, last Sunday. Los Angeles scored fewer than 20 points for the first time this season, and committed five turnovers in the loss after committing five total in its first four games this year.
- The Rams are averaging 16.4 points per game more than they did last year, the third-largest increase by a team from one season to the next all-time, and the largest by any team since the 1950 New York Yanks. Los Angeles is also averaging 119.3 more yards per game from last season, the fourth-largest increase in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).
- The Jaguars intercepted five Ben Roethlisberger passes last Sunday and returned two for touchdowns for the first time in franchise history en route to beating the Steelers, 30-9. Jacksonville is in sole possession of its division through five weeks for the first time since the 1998 season when it was in the AFC Central.
- Jacksonville leads the league with 15 takeaways this season (its most through five games in franchise history), after forcing 13 all of last season, tied for the second fewest in the NFL.
- Leonard Fournette has now scored in all five of his games in his young career, becoming only the fourth rookie in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) to score at least one touchdown in each of his first five games. He would be only the third rookie to do so in his first six games should he find the end zone again on Sunday.
- Leonard Fournette ranks second in the NFL in rushing yards (466) and third in scrimmage yards (594). Todd Gurley II ranks third in rushing yards (405) and second in scrimmage yards (646). Gurley leads the NFL with seven scrimmage touchdowns while Fournette is tied for the second most with six.
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The Los Angeles Rams have a daunting travel schedule the next three weeks. The first leg of the trip puts them in Jacksonville on Sunday for a matchup with the Jaguars.
Both teams enter the contest 3-2, but Jacksonville is coming off a big road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Rams lost a winnable game last week in Los Angeles against the NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks, 16-10. The Rams head to London in Week 7 for a "home" game vs. the Arizona Cardinals before facing the New York Giants in New Jersey in Week 8.
According to how the schedule has played out this season, this is a game the Rams will win. The Rams are undefeated on the road. Add that to these facts, the Jaguars won in Week 1, lost in Week 2, secured a victory in Week 3, were beaten in Week 4 yet blew out the Steelers in Week 5.
"That goes back to the consistency," Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone said on Monday when talking about the team being able to put together a series of wins. "That's what we're going to have to do week in and week out. We're talking about on Sunday. I think those things go hand in hand.
"We want to be a consistent football team. We want to be a winning football team. A lot of that is going to depend on what we're doing during the week. A lot of that is going to depend upon our performance when we get out there on Sunday."
Both teams are young, and each team is inconsistent. The Rams had a chance to secure a decisive victory against the formidable Seahawks, but turnovers and mental errors cost Los Angeles the win. Five turnovers vs. a solid defense will cost most NFL teams.
"Just take care of the ball and the rest takes care of itself," Rams running back Todd Gurley said after the game. "We just weren't able to do that, but it's stuff we can fix for sure. Taking care of the ball, we will definitely get that fixed for sure."
Gurley, who was the NFC Offensive Player for Week 4, had a fumble against the Seahawks and was held to 50 rushing yards.
Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay must find a way to keep Gurley more involved in the offense, especially against a schizophrenic Jaguars defense.
Jacksonville shut down Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell in the Week 5 win, holding the All-Pro running back to 47 yards rushing on 15 carries. Yet this is the same defense that gave up 163 rushing yards to the New York Jets running back Bilal Powell in a Week 4 loss.
Gurley and company need to take advantage of the front seven of the Jacksonville defense. The Jaguars' rushing defense ranks 31st in the NFL in yards allowed per game at 146.4.
The Rams' rushing defense also has been a liability at times this season as well. Los Angeles is allowing 133.6 yards a game on the ground, which ranks 27th in the NFL.
The Jaguars enter the game leading the league in rushing attempts and in rushing yards. Jacksonville rookie running back Leonard Fournette (109 carries, 466 yards, five touchdowns) is primed for a career game.
Therein lies the rub for the Los Angeles offensive passing game. Jacksonville's passing defense is third in the NFL. The Jaguars also lead the NFL in sacks with 20 and takeaways with 15. Rams quarterback Goff, who committed three turnovers in Week 5, will be tasked with being smarter with the football against an aggressive and opportunistic opponent.
Jaguars quarterback Bortles has not thrown for more than 250 yards in any game this season. He has seven touchdowns (four coming in a win against the Baltimore Ravens) and four interceptions. Both Bortles and Goff have shown the propensity to make big-time plays with their arms but then will revert to making rookie-type mistakes.
Another area to watch is the Rams' punt return game. High-priced gadget player Tavon Austin was benched after a muff versus Seattle and will no longer be returning kicks. Rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp will get the first shot against a very good Jacksonville coverage unit.
Updated October 11, 2017