Week 14 in the NFL kicks off with a matchup of two teams who were expected to compete for a playoff spot, but have fallen on hard times. The Las Vegas Raiders will head west to square off with the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football. Despite their overall struggles, Las Vegas has played better of late, including their defeat of the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 13 by a final score of 27-20. The Rams kept it close with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, but fell 27-23.
Let’s take a look at three keys to the game for this contest.
Earlier in the season, it looks like the Rams were hoping to feature anyone in their backfield besides Cam Akers. He had returned to the team last season much quicker than anyone expected after suffering an Achilles injury the prior summer. He wasn’t quite the same explosive version of himself he showed when he was rookie, and that lack of burst was evident again this year.
However, Los Angeles decided to move on from Darrell Henderson a couple of weeks ago, and it doesn’t quite seem like they’re ready to unleash rookie Kyren Williams just yet. As a result, they seem to have gone back to trusting Akers, who had his best performance of the season last week against Seattle. He ran for 60 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, and will look to keep it rolling this week against the Raiders.
An Elite Duel On The Outside
The Rams have lost most of their key players to injury as their season has cratered into the abyss, but former All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey remains active. That’s a good thing for Los Angeles, especially since they’re facing Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams, who has put up some monster games so far this season.
One of those games took place on Sunday against the Chargers, as Adams sliced them up for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Despite the lack of weapons surrounding Adams, the Chargers could not find a way to limit the dynamic receiver. It’ll be interesting to see whether Rams decide to let Ramsey cover Adams wherever he lines up on the field, or if they’ll deploy more of a team effort by shading coverage.
Can The Jacobs Train Roll On?
Many thought that the new Raiders coaching staff would begin to phase out incumbent running back Josh Jacobs this season. That has turned out to be far from the case, as Jacobs has been one of the best players at his position all season. He comes into the Rams game scalding hot, as he’s run for at least 109 yards in three straight tilts.
Against a Rams front that will be without Aaron Donald, Jacobs seems like a good bet to continue his recent streak of great play. The only factor to keep an eye on with him will be a lingering calf injury, which the back has continued to play through.