The Los Angeles Rams can add one more blowout to their list this season. However, this win was different. With the win, the Rams not only sent home a divisional rival, but they also move one step closer to the Super Bowl. While the Rams had a possibly franchise-altering day in the best way, some players experience a different level of success. Here is a look at the Los Angeles Rams winners and losers from Super Wild Card Weekend.
Los Angeles Rams Winners and Losers: Wild Card Win
Matthew Stafford did more for his future in Los Angeles than he did in the entire regular season. With the playoff blowout, not only did Stafford show he can win a playoff game, he showed he can do it in style. If the rest of the Rams’ squad can continue to show up in the same way they did this week, Stafford can cruise to a Super Bowl.
Of course, it likely will not be that simple. Eventually, Stafford is going to find himself in a tight game late and will need to make a critical throw to win a game. However, this game gives the Rams a baseline that shows a path to a Super Bowl victory. In the game, Stafford made a couple of key throws early and essentially let the rest of the roster do the work. In the game, Stafford completed 13 of 17 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, plus one rushing touchdown.
This was it. After six months of working back from a torn Achillies, Cam Akers finally inserted himself into the lineup in a meaningful way. For Akers, the fact that he was able to play in 2021 at all could be one of the great success stories of his life. Of course, Akers showed some rust, averaging 3.2 yards per carry on 17 carries (also had a few big runs called back due to penalties), but the running back was the leading back in the game in terms of the number of carries, supplanting Sony Michel. Will Akers keep the rise going? With a breakout game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Akers would be out of rope on the climb back to the top of the Rams’ depth chart.
In this game, any thoughts about returning to Denver went up in smoke as soon as he sacked Kyler Murray. Miller was all over the offensive line in this one, racking up six tackles and a sack. This was the first playoff game for Miller and his first playoff sack since dominating Cam Newton in Super Bowl 50. If the Rams can get a playoff Miller in addition to Aaron Donald, the Rams defense will be nearly impossible to move the ball against. The Buccaneers’ offensive line injuries are setting Miller and Donald up to dominate Brady this week. That said, they still need to go out and do it, but Miller’s game against the Cardinals was a big down payment on what they gave up for him.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. made a big downpayment towards showing just how valuable he still is. In the game, Beckham threw for a 40-yard touchdown on a trick play and also caught four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. It was Beckham’s second playoff game of his career and the first since the famous boat picture.
With his performance, Beckham went a long way towards erasing those jokes. Will he keep it coming against the Buccaneers? With one more big game, Beckham would have an argument saying he has been better in the playoffs more than he’s struggled. It would go a long way towards getting him a returning contract in 2022. One under-the-radar aspect to Beckham Jr. is that next season, assuming the Rams decide to keep him, the Rams could have a wide receiver group with Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., Robert Woods, and Van Jefferson. A group like that would rival any other as the best group in the league.
On such a great day for the Los Angeles Rams, it was tough to find any clear-cut losers. That is, except for Sony Michel. He spent all season long waiting for his moment, exploded, and almost immediately got supplanted by a rusty Cam Akers in the playoffs. Put simply, the NFL is a brutal business. Michel carried the ball 13 times and Akers carried it 17 times. Based on this, the Rams appear to be downgrading Michel to being the second of the Rams’ 1-2 punch out of the backfield.
One reason for Michel to hope would be that he outgained Akers in total yards and yards per carry, despite receiving fewer carries. How McVay approaches the backfield next week could settle the backfield for 2022. If the Rams go with Michel more against the Buccaneers, they are actively tinkering with the lineup, which tells Michel that he simply needs to outperform Akers to keep the job. However, if the Rams continue to force-feed Akers, Michel’s hopes of being the starter are officially dead. Outside of finding a new job, Michel will be relegated to being a backup in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future. But it’s a hell of a one-two punch!