6 takeaways from Rams’ 26-10 loss to Chiefs

The Rams fell to the Chiefs 26-10 in Week 12 and here are out six immediate takeaways from the loss.

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The Los Angeles Rams suffered another loss on Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs, giving them a 3-8 record on the season. The Rams have now lost five games in a row as injuries and other issues have taken a toll on the defending Super Bowl champions.

With Matthew Stafford sidelined due to being in the league’s concussion protocol, it was Bryce Perkins who made his first career start in the NFL in Week 12. The absence of Stafford led Los Angeles to lose 26-10 as they were unable to generate much offense.

Following another loss for the Rams, here are six takeaways from Sunday’s contest versus the Chiefs.

5 Rams to watch in Week 12 vs. Chiefs

The Rams will travel to take on the Chiefs in Week 12 and we have 5 players to keep an eye on during Sunday’s contest.

The Los Angeles Rams enter Week 12 with a dismal 3-7 record and they’ll have to travel to square off against the Kansas City Chiefs, who have reeled off four straight wins. The Chiefs are currently 15.5-point favorites over the Rams for Sunday’s contest, making it the biggest spread as the underdog in Sean McVay’s tenure in Los Angeles.

Injuries continue to negatively affect the reigning Super Bowl champions as Matthew Stafford has been ruled out for Sunday’s game and A’Shawn Robinson was placed on season-ending injured reserve. The Rams also have multiple offensive linemen questionable or sidelined.

With the Rams just looking to stay healthy and see positive signs down the final stretch of the regular season, here are five players to watch in Sunday’s matchup with the Chiefs.

The next 7 games will tell the Rams a lot about their 2023 backfield

With Darrell Henderson Jr. gone, the next 7 weeks will tell the Rams whether they need to prioritize the RB position in 2023

And then there were two.

The Los Angeles Rams trimmed their backfield in a surprising way on Tuesday, waiving Darrell Henderson Jr., leaving just Cam Akers and Kyren Williams as the only running backs on the active roster.

They started the year with three backs they really liked, and they planned to utilize all three before Williams got hurt in Week 1. But now that Williams is healthy and Akers remains on the team after a bizarre dispute before the trade deadline, the Rams apparently saw Henderson as expendable in this lost season.

So, he was cut.

It was a shocking and unexpected move, leaving the Rams without their leading rusher for the final seven games. But what this does is open the door for Akers and Williams to prove themselves.

Unlike Henderson, they’re both under contract in 2023 and one of them could conceivably be the team’s lead back. But they’ll need to earn that role because neither has done enough up to this point to tell the Rams they’re deserving of being a workhorse next season.

That’s why the next seven games are so important for Akers and Williams.

It’s unclear which one will get the bulk of the snaps and opportunities now that Henderson is gone. The last two weeks don’t tell us much, either. Williams out-snapped Akers, 35-25, on Sunday against the Saints, but Akers got 14 carries compared to seven for Williams. While Williams is unquestionably the better third-down back and has an edge in passing situations, Akers is getting more looks as a pure runner.

The Rams have seen what Akers can do in the 28 total games he’s played since 2020. He’s shown flashes of being a starting-caliber running back, but that was only in 2020. He’s been ineffective this season and only averaged 2.6 yards per carry last season, so the Achilles tear he suffered in 2021 has clearly had a negative impact.

The smart thing for the Rams to do would be to start Williams and give him the bulk of the reps. He’s a fifth-round rookie who the team traded up for, so clearly they like his potential. And he’s put together some good film in limited action so far. According to PFF, he’s averaging 3.63 yards after contact per carry, which bests both Akers (2.66) and Henderson (2.60).

And though he’s only touched the ball 12 times (8 carries, 4 receptions), he’s forced two missed tackles. That may not seem like much, but Akers has forced 10 on 78 touches and Henderson only forced nine on 87 touches.

If Williams plays well and looks like a solid starter the rest of the season, the Rams can feel comfortable not drafting another running back early in 2023. If both he and Akers can’t capitalize on the opportunity – albeit, behind a shaky offensive line – McVay will know running back will once again be a priority next year.

Henderson clearly wasn’t in the plans for 2023, so all he was doing was eating into Williams’ and Akers’ carries the rest of the way, which also would’ve done Henderson no favors as he enters free agency in March. So the Rams cleared the way for Williams and Akers to audition for the starting role in the next seven weeks.

Now it’s up to them to seize the opportunity.

Why the Rams shouldn’t consider signing Melvin Gordon

The Rams shouldn’t express interest in bringing in Melvin Gordon following the surprising release of Darrell Henderson Jr.

The Los Angeles Rams surprisingly released Darrell Henderson Jr. on Tuesday, making some fans wonder if the move was made to create room for someone who was also recently released by his respective team: Melvin Gordon. While Gordon’s name has been tied to the Rams in recent years, it doesn’t make sense for the reigning Super Bowl champions to pursue the veteran running back after he’s cleared waivers following his release from the Denver Broncos, per ESPN’s Field Yates.

The Rams boast a dismal 3-7 record entering a Week 12 road matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, who have strung together four straight wins and appear to be the team to beat in the AFC. To make matters worse, Matthew Stafford is in the league’s concussion protocol for the second time in the last two weeks and Cooper Kupp could potentially miss the rest of the season after undergoing ankle surgery.

Given the current state of the team, the Rams may be wise to deploy more of their young players for the rest of the season to see who can contribute in the future. Bringing in a 29-year-old back that has nearly 2,000 career touches to his name is more of a win-now move that the Rams aren’t in a position to make.

Just this past week against the New Orleans Saints, the rushing attack showed signs of life with Cam Akers and Kyren Williams splitting the majority of the touches. Akers and Williams combined for 105 scrimmage yards on 22 total touches in Week 11 to help Los Angeles produce a season-high 148 rushing yards as a team.

With the current injuries and the team’s diminishing odds to sneak into the playoffs, Akers and Williams should get more run down the final stretch of the regular season to see if they can be part of the hopeful backfield revival in 2023. So for those believing that all the signs point toward Gordon signing with the Rams after being waived by the Broncos — and Henderson’s release from the team — Los Angeles would be wise not to bring in an experienced back, especially one that wouldn’t be in the organization’s long-term plans.

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The Rams can’t make up their mind at running back

It’s become impossible to predict which running back the Rams will lean on each week

Sean McVay doesn’t care about your fantasy football team. Whether you have Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson Jr. or possibly even Kyren Williams, you’ve been left guessing which running back might get the bulk of the carries each week.

At this point in the season, you’re probably not starting any of the three, but McVay can’t seem to make up his mind on who to lean on. Against the Saints on Sunday, it was Cam Akers’ backfield, with Kyren Williams working as the backup ahead of Darrell Henderson Jr. Last week, it was Henderson who played the majority of the snaps at running back. Two weeks ago, Malcolm Brown was getting more snaps than Akers.

The entire workload distribution and playing time split has been confusing the last three weeks.

Week 9

  • Henderson: 49% snap share, 12 carries, 56 yards
  • Brown: 28% snap share, 2 carries, 9 yards
  • Akers: 19% snap share, 5 carries, 3 yards

Week 10

  • Henderson: 57%, 6 carries, 21 yards
  • Williams: 16%, 1 carry, 9 yards
  • Akers: 10%, 6 carries, 22 yards

Week 11

  • Williams: 55%, 7 carries, 36 yards
  • Akers: 39%, 14 carries, 61 yards
  • Henderson: 7%, 2 carries, 9 yards

Good luck guessing which running back will play the most snaps or get the most carries next week against the Chiefs. Only once in the last three weeks has a running back played the most snaps and gotten the most carries. That was Henderson in Week 9, yet Henderson played just 7% of the snaps Sunday and got two carries.

The running game showed some signs of life against the Saints, gaining a season-high 148 yards on the ground. Maybe McVay sticks with the same plan next week in Kansas City – though, the game script probably won’t call for many runs against the high-powered Chiefs offense.

The rookie Williams is certainly gaining some traction in the backfield and the Rams could prefer to give him more opportunities to play in this all-but-lost season, so he’s someone to watch moving forward – especially after leading the group on Sunday. But Akers ran hard and had his best game since Week 3.

Regardless, this is as jumbled as the backfield has been all season.

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6 takeaways from Rams’ disappointing 27-20 loss to Saints

The Rams suffered their 4th straight loss of the season to the Saints in Week 11 and here are 6 immediate takeaways from the game.

The Los Angeles Rams have lost four games in a row for the first time under Sean McVay after losing 27-20 to the New Orleans Saints in Week 11. The Rams have fallen to 3-7 on the season and their hopes of crawling into the playoffs have seemingly dissipated.

Injuries have plagued the reigning Super Bowl champions and McVay is desperately trying to duct tape canyon-sized holes on the current roster. There is only so much you can do when you endure the number of injuries that Los Angeles has this season.

With another loss in the books for the Rams, here are six takeaways from Sunday’s loss to the Saints on the road.

Rams are only team in NFL without a 65-yard rusher this season

How bad has the Rams’ running game been this season? Not one player has rushed for at least 65 yards in a game.

There have been a lot of reasons the Rams offense has performed astonishingly poorly through nine weeks, and the running game is way up there on the list of issues. It’s the worst ground game in the NFL right now, ranking last in rushing attempts (191) and rushing yards (613), as well as 31st in yards per carry (3.2).

It’s not as if there was one great performance and eight terrible ones, either. They’ve all been bad, with no signs of life any time the Rams run the ball. Their longest carry of the season is only 23 yards, too, which is hard to believe.

Perhaps the most telling stat is this one: The Rams are the only team in the NFL without a player who has rushed for at least 63 yards in a game. Every other team has at least one game, and 29 teams have at least two such games. Last season, the Rams had 11 games with at least one 65-yard rusher.

This doesn’t mean the Rams haven’t rushed for 65 yards as a team. They’ve done that five times, but no single player has had more than 61 yards once this season. The closest the Rams came was in Week 3 when Cam Akers had 61 yards, and then in Week 9 when Hendrson had 56.

Otherwise, their leading rusher hasn’t topped 50 yards in a single other game. Yikes.

Sean McVay says Cam Akers ‘did a good job’ in return to Rams

Sean McVay evaluated Cam Akers’ performance against the Bucs and said he was pleased with how he played

Cam Akers missed two games in Weeks 6 and 8 due to a disagreement with the Rams, causing the team to try to trade him. He returned on Sunday against the Buccaneers, playing his first game in a month.

His opportunities were limited, both by the offense’s ineptitude and his spot on the depth chart, but Sean McVay was pleased with the way Akers played. He evaluated his performance in Sunday’s game, recognizing that he didn’t have many chances or much running room, resulting in his 3 yards on five carries.

“I thought he did a good job with what he could control. The snaps were minimal, there wasn’t a whole lot of space,” McVay said Monday. “I thought he had a good, tough short-yardage run that converted. I thought he had a good blitz pickup on a quick out route that we hit to Cooper (Kupp) on our near sidelines when Devin White ended up blitzing internally. I thought he did a nice job. It was good to be able to get him back in the mix. The hard thing is that, while you want to be able to get guys involved, whether it’s a running back getting more touches, whether that be Cam or Darrell (Henderson Jr.) or whoever it might be, or get more receivers involved, for you to be able to do that at the level that we’re accustomed to and what you guys have seen, there needs to be production offensively and more opportunities to snap the football and have more touches to go around. So that’s where some of those challenges have been. All these things are just excuses from my end, but I thought with what Cam could do and what he could control based on his snaps, I was pleased with Cam.”

Henderson got the bulk of the carries out of the backfield, rushing 12 times for 56 yards – including a 23-yard run, which was the Rams’ longest of the season. Henderson also played 49% of the snaps compared to 19% for Akers, and McVay indicated Henderson could get even more work moving forward after his encouraging performance.

That doesn’t bode well for Akers’ role, but at least he’s back in the building and contributing to the team as a backup.

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Tunnel Vision

Tunnel Vision – a look back at Sunday for fantasy free agents, injuries and notable performances.

SUNDAY SALUTES
Quarterbacks Pass-Rush TD
Justin Fields  123-178 4
 Josh Allen 205-86 2
 Tua Tagovailoa 302-5 3
 Geno Smith 275-38 2
 Patrick Mahomes 446-63 2
Running Backs Rush
Receive
TD
Joe Mixon 22-153
4-58
4
Kenneth Walker 26-109
3-20
2
Travis Etienne 28-109
2-17
2
Austin Ekeler 14-47
7-24
2
Derrick Henry 17-115 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Davante Adams 10-146 2
Tyreek Hill 7-143 1
Cooper Kupp 8-126 1
Justin Jefferson 7-115 1
Christian Kirk 8-76 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Dallas Goedert 8-100 1
Cole Kmet 5-41 2
Cade Otton 5-68 1
T.J. Hockerson 9-70 0
Travis Kelce 10-106 0
Placekickers XP FG
Nick Folk 2 4
Ryan Succop 1 3
Riley Patterson 3 2
Greg Zuerlein 2 2
Jason Myers 2 2
Defense Sack – TO TD
Patriots 9-1 1
Lions 1-3 0
Cardinals 2-1 1
Jets 5-2 0
Dolphins 2-0 1

Bumps, Bruises and Bowouts

QB P.J. Walker (CAR) -Benched
RB Aaron Jones (GB) – Ankle
WR Romeo Doubs (GB) – Ankle
WR Christian Watson (GB) – Concussion
TE Evan Engram (JAC) – Back

Chasing Ambulances

There were six teams on their bye, but like last week, the list is delightfully small. They say that by midseason, you’ve either been injured already or learned to play through it.

RB Aaron Jones (GB) – Left the loss to the Lions with an ankle injury and wore a boot after the game. Jones jogged back to the locker room and said that he was “a little sore” and did not think it was serious. X-rays were negative, so the hope is that he’ll be able to play this week against the Cowboys.

WR Romeo Doubs (GB) – Injured his ankle and was ruled out of the loss to the Lions. He wore a walking boot and used crutches after the game. There is concern that it may be serious enough that he misses more playing time. Monday tests will confirm the diagnosis. The Packers can ill-afford to lose any of their receivers.

TE Evan Engram (JAC) – Injured his back during the win over the Raiders and did not return to the game. He’ll be evaluated on Monday. Dan Arnold would move up to the starting spot if Engram misses any time.

Free Agents, Flops and Other Notables

WR Josh Palmer (LAC) – The Chargers were without Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, so Palmer (8-106) took the primary role  and delivered against the Falcons. His ten targets led the Chargers.

WR Cole Kmet (CHI) – While he was a disappointment through Week 7, the talented tight end scored on his two catches for 11 yards in Week 8. Against the Dolphins, Kmet had a career-best game with five catches for 41 yards and two touchdowns. He was second only to Darnell Mooney in targets.

WR Chase Claypool (CHI) – His first game with the Bears only resulted in two catches for 13 yards, but he was thrown six passes in his debut. The Bears are intent on getting him involved.

QB Baker Mayfield (CAR) – P.J. Walker got the hook at halftime when he only totaled nine yards and two interceptions as a passer. Mayfield entered the game and threw for 155 yards and two scores but the Bengals already led 35-0 and may have let up in the second half. Mayfield threw scores to Terrace Marshall (3-52) and Tommy Tremble (2-11, TD), but D.J. Moore only managed two catches for 24 yards. But he kept his helmet on after both receptions. No word yet on of the change was game-situation or something more.

WR Garrett Wilson (NYJ) – The rookie’s production took a nosedive with Zach Wilson under center, but he caught six passes for 115 yards in Week 8 versus the Pats. On Sunday, he led the Jets with eight catches for 92 yards. He’s not only connecting now with Wilson, but no other Jet gained more than 16 receiving yards in the win over the Bills. Wilson is dominating the receivers.

RB Jeff Wilson (MIA) – He already knew the offense, so Wilson’s first game after being traded saw him lead the backfield with nine runs for 51 yards and he added three catches for 12 yards and a touchdown. The move is already proving a fortunate career move. Raheem Mostert ran for 26 yards and a score on his nine rushes but had no receptions. The Dolphins now have the same committee the 49ers used two years ago.

TE T.J. Hockenson (MIN) – In his first game as a Viking, Hockenson caught all nine targets for 70 yards in the win over the Commanders.  That was the second-highest catch total of his career. He was second only to Justin Jefferson in catches and yards. His nine catches led the team. Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook had marginal games as receivers, so Hockenson’s workload will be interesting for the next few weeks.

TE Noah Fant (SEA) – He was part of the trade that sent Russell Wilson to the Broncos, and Fant played a minor role for the first half of the season. Against the Cardinals, he led the team with five receptions for 96 yards that included a 51-yard reception.

WR Ronald Moore (ARI) – The second-year wideout looks to be making a move towards breaking out with 92 yards and a score in Week 8, and then a team-high eight receptions for 69 yards in the loss to the Seahawks.  Moore’s ten targets paced the team and were double the five DeAndre Hopkins received.

Rams backfield – Cam Akers returned to the field and that meant that the Rams would rely on a three-man committee to produce their mediocre output. Darrell Henderson (12-56) was the only effective runner while Akers (5-3) and Malcolm Brown (2-9) added nothing.

TE Cade Otton (TB) – The promising rookie already had a couple of games with four catches or more. In the win over the Rams, he led the Buccaneers with five catches for 68 yards and caught the game-winning touchdown with only nine seconds left to play.

RB Raheem Blackshear (CAR) – The Panthers were badly beaten by the Bengals and D’Onta Foreman was limited to only 21 total yards.  Blackshear is the kick returner, but they let him play in the second half. He ended up second on the team with four catches for 40 yards and he ran in a fourth-quarter touchdown on his five carries for 13 yards. It was almost entirely during trash time, but these Panthers appear likely to be trailing badly in future games as well. He’s not worth grabbing, but worth tracking in case Foreman is injured. Blackshear was the No. 10 fantasy back for Week 10.

WR Kadarius Toney (KC) – The ex-Giant caught the first pass that Patrick Mahomes threw in the Sunday night game. But he only fielded one more pass and ended with 12 yards. He never saw any more action after the first quarter. It was a small step but at least Toney was able to play and looked healthy.

QB Justin Fields (CHI) – The passing yardage may remain pedestrian and limited, but Fields ended Week 9 as the highest-scoring fantasy quarterback. He passed for 123 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 178 yards and a touchdown on 15 rushes in the loss to the Seahawks. It was a career mark in rushing yards and the third time in the last four weeks that he gained at least 80 yards as a runner.  It was just as encouraging about his development that he threw scores to Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet. And this week, the Bears host the Lions.

Huddle player of the week

Joe Mixon – He’s disappointed fantasy drafters who hoped to latch on to the scoring machine of 2021. And now they have, it just all came in one game instead of being spread out. Mixon was simply unstoppable with 22 runs for 153 yards and four touchdowns, plus four receptions for 58 yards and a fifth score in the win over the Panthers. That’s 51.1 fantasy points and a career game for Mixon.

Salute!

Drama 101 – Somebody has to laugh, somebody has to cry

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Geno Smith 303 2 QB Matthew Stafford 163 1
RB Jeff Wilson 72 1 RB D’Onta Foreman 21 0
RB Raheem Blackshear 53 1 RB Aaron Jones 45 0
WR Chris Moore 45 1 WR DeVonta Smith 22 0
WR Terrace Marshall 53 1 WR Michael Pittman 22 0
WR Rondale Moore 69 0 WR Mike Evans 40 0
TE Noah Fant 96 0 TE Tyler Higbee 0 0
PK Nick Folk   2 XP  4 FG PK Mike Badgley   1 XP
Huddle Fantasy Points = 125 Huddle Fantasy Points = 29

Now get back to work…

Cam Akers quiet in first game back with Rams

Cam Akers was quiet in his return to the Rams, operating as the No. 2 running back behind Darrell Henderson Jr.

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Cam Akers returned to the Rams last week, practicing for the first time since Week 6. After being a full participant on Thursday and Friday, he suited up against the Buccaneers on Sunday.

He wasn’t expected to have a very big role and his opportunities were indeed few and far between.

In his first game since Week 5, Akers carried the ball five times for a total of 3 yards. His longest carry went for 2 yards and his final two rushes went for a total of minus-2 yards. Additionally, he wasn’t targeted a single time as a receiver.

Passing downs were mostly handled by Darrell Henderson Jr. and Malcolm Brown, with Akers remaining on the sideline. Henderson didn’t catch his only target of the game, while Brown had a 10-yard reception.

Akers will have to earn his chances within the offense and gaining just 3 yards on five carries isn’t going to get it done – not when Henderson rushes for 56 yards on 12 attempts. We’ll see what his role looks like next week against the Cardinals but it’s hard to see him supplanting Henderson as the No. 1 back right now.