The St. Louis Rams will host the New York Jets this weekend in a battle of two teams who haven’t won a game since early October. The Rams last won on Thursday Night Football when they dominated the Arizona Cardinals, the Jets last victory was their 35-9 dismantling of the Indianapolis Colts. Both teams have since suffered both blowout and close losses and even 1 tie that felt more like 2 losses. There’s no shortage of storylines in this game, from the Tebow Time talk to a shot at Revenge for Schotty the New York Jets bring with them a media circus. So we will let everyone else in the New York media speculate about everything that will happen outside the lines and this article will focus entirely on the game itself. So lets take a look at the matchups for all 3 phases between these two 3 win teams.
Rams Offense vs. Jets Defense. The St. Louis Rams offense really came to life last weekend against one of the best defenses in the NFL. In case there was any doubt prior to last weekends game, Danny Amendola makes this offense click. One area that Amendola vastly improves the offense is in third down conversion percentage, which is one of the more important yet least often referenced statistics in football. The Rams are converting 39.4% on third downs with Amendola in the lineup and just 29.2% in games without him. The Rams converted an incredible 43.8% against the 49ers last weekend, which is well above the 33.3% average the 49ers are giving up this season. Third down defense also happens to be a weakness of the Jets as they are allowing a 44.4% conversion rate this season. The Jets do have a very good cornerback in Rodgers-Cromartie but he probably wont match up well against Amendola in the slot. The Jets defense also has been very poor against the rush this season as they are allowing 145 yards per game at 4.4 yards per carry. The Rams really got the ground game going last weekend against one of the NFL’s top run defenses as they put up 159 yards at 4.3 yards per carry against a defense that averages 95.3 per game at 3.7 yards per carry. If the Rams can get the ground game going early it could open up the play action pass which may get Givens back to his 50+ yard reception ways. Overall the matchup is favorable for the Rams and the style of offense that they play, as long as the Rams offensive line can get similar production to last weekend the offense should fare well.
Rams Defense vs. Jets Offense. The Rams defense has been suffering through a turnover drought ever since the game against Arizona. Of course three of the games played since that victory have been against teams considered to be among the NFL’s elite, two of them against arguably the two best QB’s in the NFL today, especially when it comes to not turning the ball over. Last weekend the Rams managed to force 4 fumbles without recovering a single one of them. The Rams defense should match up well against the New York Jets offense this weekend and will probably finally end their turnover drought. Ever since Brockers returned from injury the Rams defense has been much more stout agains the run, and is even generating more consistent pressure on the quarterback as teams can no longer double both defensive ends. The St. Louis Rams defensive line should have the advantage in this game and will have opportunities to bring down Sanchez in the backfield or force him into poor decisions, something he has been prone to while under pressure throughout his career. The Jets offense has been converting 3rd downs at 37.6% this season while the Rams defense has been allowing conversions on 37.7%. If the Rams can contain the Jets running game and force them into a pass first mentality the defense could set themselves up for a very productive day of getting after the quarterback and forcing turnovers.
Special Teams. It is amazing to think that a team with the rookie phenoms Legatron and Hekker on special teams would be at a disadvantage. The Jets special teams has been one of the best units in the NFL for quite a while. They already have one punt and kickoff return for touchdowns this season and are a 4th in kickoff return yard average and 6th in punt return yard average this season. For the Jets to win this weekend they will need their special teams to either score them points, or provide favorable field position for an offense that will probably struggle to put together long drives. The Rams special teams units have been very good this season and have yet to surrender a return touchdown. Of course there is more to special teams than the return game, as the Rams two fake punts last weekend clearly demonstrated. While Legatron has cooled off some following the red hot start to his NFL career, he will be kicking inside the friendly confines of the Edward Jones Dome this weekend where he has yet to miss as he is 10/10 including a 58 and 60 yarder. The slight advantage goes to the New York Jets on special teams and may provide them with the best opportunity to win the game.
Overall this should be a good game for each sides fans to judge where their team is at and where they are headed. The team that loses this game can kiss their already very dim playoff hopes goodbye. Can the Rams build off the momentum they had in San Fransisco last weekend and make a push towards playoff contention? Can the Jets put all the off the field talk behind them and claw their way into the wild card race in the AFC? Earlier in the week Ramblin’ Fan predicted a 31-13 win for the St. Louis Rams