The Los Angeles Rams are set to kick off against a much tougher opponent than who they faced a week ago. The Pittsburgh Steelers are healthier and have a better record than the Rams. However, Matthew Stafford and Co. can change that on Sunday. That said, in order to do so, one key matchup must go the Rams’ way.
T.J. Watt Holds Week 7 Win In His Clutches
Heading into the game, the Rams offense is operating without an established backfield. Unless third-string running back Zach Evans shocks the league, it means the Rams likely will need to be one-dimensional in the matchup. They can still win this way, but it will be much more difficult. Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua could tear up enough for the team to get into the 20s, which would be enough to win.
However, one caveat to that is T.J. Watt. The superstar pass rusher currently leads the league in sacks in a tie with Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings. He’s torn up offensive lines as difficult and even more so than what the Rams will be using this weekend. It is likely that Watt will be matched up against Avila and Jackson as they are the newest pieces of the offense.
Avila has earned a 61.2 PFF score this season and Jackson has a 53.1 score. As such, in a one-on-one matchup, Watt likely would win in a landslide. However, if they double-team him, they might have a chance. The Rams are going to need the best out of those two this weekend as they are set to throw early and often without Kyren Williams in the lineup.
Throwing takes time and opens the door to more sack opportunities for Watt. Not only that, but it also opens the door to fumbles scooped up for touchdowns. If Watt has a great day, that could be the result. However, if they can keep Watt contained at least long enough for the Rams to get a lead, Kenny Pickett‘s 30th-ranked offense likely won’t be able to come back.
Pickett’s offense averages 15.8 points per game and as such, it won’t take Matthew Stafford’s best game to win. However, it couldn’t hurt. The biggest worry with Stafford is whether he can keep track of Watt to avoid fumbling the ball via blindside hit. He’s never been the most mobile quarterback in the league, so his ability to figure out Watt after the fact is a nervous proposition.
Of course, it should be mentioned the pass rusher is listed as questionable ahead of the game. No one should be rooting for injuries, but a less-than-100% Watt or his absence could change the game in the Rams’ favor immensely. At this point, it would be a surprise to see the biggest star on the team miss a start with a .500 record on the line so the team should be fully prepared to see him this weekend.