The Los Angeles Rams certainly had a merry Christmas as they were able to demolish the Denver Broncos on the holiday, but they draw a much tougher task in Week 17 when they take on their SoFi Stadium co-tenants the Los Angeles Chargers.
Unlike the Rams, the Chargers have had a good 2022 season and are heading to the playoffs after winning last week. It’s a tale of two different paths for the Los Angeles teams, but that doesn’t mean the Rams can’t go out and continue to try and build some positive momentum heading into the offseason.
Rams Offense vs. Chargers Defense
Baker Mayfield is coming off his best performance since coming to Los Angeles, though he faces a stiffer test as he squares off against a Chargers defense headlined by multiple stars. Making it more difficult is Chargers head coach Brandon Staley is quite familiar with head coach Sean McVay, so the latter will need to be creative in the playcalling.
The Chargers’ pass rush will be the key to this game because not only do they have Khalil Mack but they will be getting back Joey Bosa who has missed the past 12 games due to a groin injury. It’s one of the best pass rush duos in the league, and everyone is well-aware of how much the Rams offensive line has struggled this year.
If there’s one weak point in the Charger defense it’s against running backs which plays well into Cam Akers’ favor. Akers has come alive during the second half of the season and he should see most of the opportunities in the backfield.
Rams Defense vs. Chargers Offense
This will be a serious test for the Rams defense as the Chargers boast weapons at all the key positions. Justin Herbert has perked up in recent weeks and with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams available, the Rams secondary will have its work cut out for them.
Aside from Allen and Williams, Austin Ekeler is having another strong year and his ability to run and catch the football will stretch the Rams defense. Linebackers Bobby Wagner and Ernest Jones will need to be on high alert any time Ekeler is on the field.
Keys to Victory
1. Control time of possession
Mayfield has done well when asked to throw, but this is a game where he and the Rams would benefit controlling the game clock with Akers and the ground game. The Chargers are able to score quickly thanks to Herbert’s big arm, so keeping him off the field as much as possible is imperative.
2. Utilize the middle of the field
Derwin James will be out for the game due to a concussion, meaning the Rams could find more open space in the middle of the field. Utilizing players like Tyler Higbee and Akers in the short passing game is going to be crucial in neutralizing the Chargers pass rush while also keeping the team ahead of the chains.