The Jaguars and Rams both enter their week six matchup leading their respective divisions with 3-2 records. For most of the season the Rams have been getting the job done with an impressive offensive attack, while the Jaguars are winning games in large part due to their defensive dominance. The Jaguars defense is being called by DC Todd Wash, who seems to have found the right combination of scheme and talent in 2017. On the other side the Rams offense is called by first year HC Sean McVay. At 31 McVay is the youngest head coach in football, but he has the Rams offense looking like one of the best in football (save their embarrassing performance against Seattle). The two teams square off this Sunday at 4:05 pm in Jacksonville at EverBank Field.
The Rams offense has been a revelation in 2017. In Jared Goff's second season he has really found his stride, improving in almost every conceivable area of his game. Aiding him has been the resurgence of Todd Gurley, who leads the Rams in receptions, receiving TDs, rushes, rushing yards, and rushing TDs. He's been one of the most impressive players in the NFL this season. In just five games Gurley has racked up 646 scrimmage yards, and seven total touchdowns. Gurley, however, saw a season low in touches (16) last week against the Seahawks, despite the score being within reach for the entirety of the game. The Rams staff cited matchups and scheme as the reason for the lack of touches. The Rams most talented WR Sammy Watkins has also seen a drop in production lately. Against the Seahawks Watkins didn't catch a ball, and he wasn't happy about it. Aside from Gurley and Watkins the Rams have some other nice weapons. Receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are both playing strong football. Tight ends Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee have also proven more than capable as receiving threats. Tavon Austin, the Rams former number one receiver, has been moved down the depth chart, but is now being used all over the field, including as a RB. From this formation they'll use him to run the ball or even have him go in motion to line up in the slot or out wide. The Rams base personnel on offense is 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB. But they like to use their tight ends as receivers, so the Jaguars will likely be forced to put a safety or linebacker on tight ends in passing situations. The Rams offensive line is playing at a high level, paving the way for Todd Gurley and allowing only six sacks through five weeks. The Rams offense sputtered last week in Seattle, but this a team that's averaging 30 points per game, using a balanced attack to get the job done.
The Jaguars defense might be the most exciting unit on either side of the ball in the entire NFL right now. The Jacksonville defense has allowed just 83 points in 2017 for an average of just over 16 per game. They're tied for second in the league in that statistic, but lead the NFL in many others. They're first in sacks (20), first in forced turnovers (15), and first in defensive touchdowns (4). They have guys playing elite football at every level of the defense. The Jaguars run a 4-3 defense, but are regularly lined up in the nickel, usually subbing out LB Paul Posluszny for nickel CB Aaron Colvin. Speaking of Colvin, he had his best game as a pro last week recording 10 tackles, many of which came on short gains or even behind the line of scrimmage. The most dominant group on the defensive side of the ball is the secondary. Led by Jalen Ramsey (2 INTs), the Jaguars secondary also features CB AJ Bouye (2 INTs), FS Tashaun Gipson (3 INTs), and SS Barry Church (1 INT). The group is playing at a truly elite level. The linebackers are also getting the job done. Paul Posluszny has seen a greatly reduced role while Telvin Smith and Myles Jack dominate the snap percentages at linebacker. Jack and Smith are both playing at a Pro Bowl level through five weeks. The secondary and linebackers are playing great football for the Jaguars, but it all starts up front. Defensive lineman Calais Campbell has transformed the mental makeup of the Jaguars D-Line. He leads the team with 6.5 sacks, while Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue both have four. DTs Malik Jackson and Abry Jones continue to play stout football and are both helping out in the pass rush department.
As the title of the article states this could be the best matchup in football this week. The Rams up start offense will challenge the Jaguars defense. If the Jaguars defense does have a weakness, it's stopping the run. Despite a stellar performance against Pittsburgh, the Jaguars run defense has shown vulnerability as recently as week four against the Jets. If the Jaguars can slow down Todd Gurley, who is off to a fantastic start in 2017, they should have a great shot disrupting the Rams offense. The Rams have only given up six sacks this year, but the Jaguars league leading pass rush will look to change that. As good as the Rams offense has been, it seems the Jaguars defense should get the better of them more times than not, similarly to what the Seahawks defense was able to do last week. The Rams may try to catch the Jaguars out of position with motions and Tavon Austin gadget plays. The Jaguars defense is a better and more complete unit than the Rams offense. They can matchup with each of the Rams receiving threats. If the Jaguars can avoid giving up the big play, on the ground or otherwise, they'll keep the team in the game.
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