The Jets really could use a game against a team that is struggling. Instead, they get the Rams, who have won their past two games and can secure a playoff berth with a win Sunday. This one won’t be close.
Rams 31, Jets 3
Jets offensive line vs. Rams DT Aaron Donald
Last week, the Jets had to worry about Seahawks safety Jamal Adams getting to Sam Darnold. This week, the threat to Darnold will be much closer to him and much bigger.
Donald is having a season that has him in contention for Defensive Player of the Year, which would be his third time winning the award. He leads the NFL with 12.5 sacks and no one seems to be able to stop him. Donald has been double-teamed on 70 percent of his pass rushes, the highest number in the league at his position, according to ESPN. He also has the highest pass rush win rate in the league among defensive tackles (23 percent) per ESPN.
The Jets have given up 36 sacks this season and have an offensive line playing two backup guards. Jets running back Frank Gore called Donald “a beast.”
“He’s probably the best player on defense in the NFL right now,” Gore said. “I’ve been competing with him since I was in San Fran. [He’s] always been a great player, plays the game the right way.”
Filling The Holes: The Jets have not done many things well this season, but the one area you could point to as a bright spot was their run defense … until last week.
The Seahawks gashed them for 174 rushing yards. Now, here come the Rams, who just gained 186 yards on the ground in a win over the Patriots last week. Cam Akers rushed for 171 yards on his own. The Jets have the 12th-ranked rushing defense in the NFL. Can they fix what ailed them in Seattle?
“I think there’s definitely a couple of the big plays were plays that we definitely could have negated,” coach Adam Gase said. “When we talk to our defense about everybody doing their job, making sure that our run fits or right or solid as far as who’s got what gap. If we do that, that’s when we have our success.”
Ramsey Island: Not only do the Rams have the best defensive lineman in football, but also they have one of the best cornerbacks in football behind him. Jalen Ramsey has been a stud for his entire career and is now thriving in Los Angeles after escaping Jacksonville. Ramsey will be a headache for quarterback Sam Darnold and the entire Jets offense.
“I haven’t been around too many corners where I feel like it’s just he has such a great feel for the game,” Gase said. “He does a really good job as far as feeling the route, kind of feeling the receiver, he’s stopping, he runs the route before the guy. He knows when to stay deep, he knows when it’s time to gamble.”
Struggling Sam: It feels like we are watching the end of Darnold’s career with the Jets. If they end up with the No. 1 draft pick, they almost certainly will trade Darnold and draft Clemson star Trevor Lawrence. Darnold has not played well at all this season. He has just five touchdown passes and nine interceptions. He has failed to throw a touchdown pass in five of his past six games. It is hard to imagine a scenario in which he plays well Sunday against a Rams defense that is No. 1 in the NFL. Maybe he’ll be energized by playing in Southern California, where he grew up.
Whoa-And-14: Every week with the Jets now feels like a march toward ignominy. A loss to the Rams would drop them to 0-14 for the first time in franchise history. It would be their most losses since 1996, when they went 1-15.
They would be the sixth team since the AFL-NFL merger to begin a season 0-14. Three of those teams did not win a game — the 1976 Buccaneers (0-14), the 2008 Lions (0-16) and the 2017 Browns (0-16).
Though most Jets fans are now rooting for the team to lose its remaining games to secure the No. 1-overall pick, the players and coaches are trying to avoid the humiliation of 0-16.