While the LA Rams were able to win the NFC West Division at 12-5 without him carrying the football, running back Cam Akers never gave it a thought. After tearing his Achilles Tendon before the season began, the Rams and the player remained cautiously optimistic. While nobody believed that he could be back in time to suit up for the regular season, the team held out hope that if they made it to the NFL Playoffs, Akers would be there with them.
Sure…sure. And the Golden Gate Bridge is for sale for $400 online too.
But it wasn’t a myth. In fact, Cam Akers carried the ball five times in the season finale for three yards. It was just a systems check. Akers was not trying to break one for the endzone. But it was all the team’s coaching staff needed. Akers checked out okay. All systems were green.
Since that game, the LA Rams have not been timid or hesitant about running Akers in the playoffs. In three games, the team has handed the ball to him 54 times for 151 yards. His longest run in the post-season so far has been 15 yards. And he has yet to score. And yet, we are asserting that Akers could be a huge offensive weapon for the Rams offense?
So we’re back to selling the Golden Gate Bridge online for $400 again? No, not at all. Hear me out…
Run Cam run
So far in three games in the playoff, the Cincinnati Bengals have allowed an average of 127.3 yards per game. Their opponents – the Las Vegas Raiders, the Tennessee Titans, and the Kansas City Chiefs, all are among the best playoff teams in terms of rushing offenses. That is in stark contrast to their regular season averages, where only the Titans were among the Top-10 rushing offenses in the NFL. The reason? The Bengals opponents concluded that the best way to attack their team was to control the clock and keep the Bengals’ high-powered offense off the football field.
In fact, the Bengals and Rams offenses are very similarly constructed. So it should surprise nobody that the Bengals offense is rather pass-centric. It is, after all, patterned after the LA Rams’ own offensive system. That’s why Bengals’ head coach, Zac Taylor, was hired from the Rams coaching staff, after all, to install a McVay-cloned offense that the Bengals could run.
The difference between the two teams appears to be in how effectively they’ve defended the run in the playoffs. So far, the Rams have been the stiffest against the run among all NFL playoff teams, allowing just 54.0 yards per game, and 3.1 yards per rush. The Bengals are a bit of the opposite end of the spectrum. As we had stated previously, they have allowed 127.3 yards per game and 5.9 yards per rush.
The LA Rams, like other teams, can use that vulnerability to their advantage. Just as so many teams had done to thwart the Rams, the Rams’ offense can force the Bengals to pass if the Rams can take the lead and control the game clock. As long as the Rams can open running lanes for Akers, he can move the chains and keep the Bengals’ offense on their bench.
But perhaps more importantly, if and when the Bengals offense does take the football field, they will confront a well-rested Rams defense. Well-rested defenses can get after the quarterback, and chalk up sacks. The Rams offense will need to help deliver plenty of time to recharge to their defense.
So far, the Rams have confirmed that Cam Akers is good to go and that he can run in the NFL. But the Rams need that one big game, that 100+ yard breakout performance, to confirm that everything is AOK. This game feels like the one where Akers could put up over 100 yards running. Strategically speaking, it would be the best path for the Rams team hoping to win the game.