The Battle for Los Angeles had to start somewhere, had to start sometime. What better place than the afternoon slot while everyone is recovering from their New Year’s Eve hangovers? As far as the Rams go, there wasn’t much to learn from this one outside of Cam Akers possibly being back to peak form and that we’re one more game from Taylor Rapp becoming a comp pick and someone else’s problem. The Chargers had more to play for in that they can still be a fifth seed which grants them the freedom to play the AFC South champion, which is the most desirable path to success.
Chargers Beat Rams
As for the Rams, there once again aren’t any stakes outside of learning what the younger players can do and making the Lions’ pick not sting as much. On the plus side, the Chargers still have to hand the Rams their rent check for the month. Other than that, the Rams started 2023 getting blown out by their little brother.
Offensively, the story today was assistant coach Thomas Brown‘s ability to reinvigorate Cam Akers. Akers had 19 carries for 123 yards and after his performances in the last month of the season, there’s enough evidence to support the case that Akers is back. The run blocking has also greatly improved in the month of December so offensive line coach Kevin Carberry deserves a gold star too. Akers not only ran the ball effectively but he also showed improvement as a blocker.
Malcolm Brown had the Rams lone touchdown today when the Chargers defense fell asleep at the wheel but, hey, points are points. Curiously, there wasn’t much Kyren Williams today either. The passing game didn’t deliver much. Baker Mayfield (11/19 132 yards) couldn’t get much going against a Chargers defense that was without Derwin James. He also lost a fumble and was sacked three times. On the plus side, he did spread the ball around and there was even a Brycen Hopkins sighting. The Chargers learned from the Denver tape and made sure Tyler Higbee only had eleven yards on the day.
The Rams are also continuing to use Brandon Powell in a Deebo Samuel (vomit) type role and that could become a bigger deal next season. Unlike most houses Rams house quickly moved on from Christmas as they couldn’t replicate last week’s smackdown of the Broncos. Oh well…
Defensively this week was UGLY. Coming into this game the Rams hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. (but Raheem Morris has nothing to do with that right?) Until today that is. Chargers running back and fantasy champion Austin Ekeler rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns. WOOOF.
Justin Herbert also had two touchdowns against “bend don’t break” and seemingly had no issue throwing for first downs. There was one controversial play that might have changed the outcome just a bit. Jalen Ramsey looked not-washed-out by causing a fumble near the end of the first half that was ruled an incomplete pass because…reasons…
The defense also went cold again in the turnover and sack departments despite being hot all December. There were former Rams who were at least able to get to the quarterback. Morgan Fox and Sebastian Joseph-Day sacked Baker. This obviously wasn’t a real Raheem vs Brandon Staley game but for a certain sect of the fanbase, their pining for Staley grew stronger, and once again Sean McVay loses to a protege.
There wasn’t much at all to take away from today other than that the Rams have earned their 11-loss status. Next week they have a shot to at least beat Seattle, possibly send the Lions to the playoffs, and end the year on a high note. Mercifully there’s only one game left and it can’t come soon enough. Happy New Year Ramily!