New York Jets @ Los Angeles Rams (23-20 Jets)
Mike The Ace @TheAceWriter
The New York Jets got a win! I didn’t think I’d have a chance to say that phrase in the year 2020, but here we are. After losing the first 13 games of the season, the Jets traveled out west and beat the Los Angeles Rams.
The Rams were a team that I was very hard on before the season started. We discussed their offseason on Episode 6 of the TFINS podcast (26:10). The Rams surpassed my expectations on the season overall, and they currently hold a wildcard spot with the second best record in the NFC West.
My concerns with the Rams in the preseason were centered around their offensive line. I thought that they had an unproven offensive line, and they did not make enough changes in the offseason to get good play up front. I’ll give credit to the Rams’ coaching staff, as their offensive line has been one of the better units in the NFL. Despite the o-line’s great season, they were outplayed on Sunday afternoon against New York.
The Jets defensive line is a young and athletic bunch. Their success starts in the middle with defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. After a slow rookie season, Williams has come to play as a sophomore. He recorded his 7th sack of the season in this game. Williams was also good against the run, making plays early and often.
Pressure up the middle is always a difficult task for quarterbacks to overcome. The Jets rattled Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff in the first half, and he was unable to find a rhythm. The Rams only got past midfield twice in the first half, settling for a field goal on their second trip past midfield. The Jets held a 13-3 lead going into the break.
Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold also had a good game. He was decisive with the football, and was able to limit any mistakes. Darnold would finish the game going 22 of 31, for 207 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions. The Jets were able to move down the field and score on the opening drive of the 2nd half, increasing their lead to 20-3.
The Rams were able to fight back in this game, but were unable to complete the comeback. Jared Goff and the offense had a chance to tie or take the lead with 4:00 remaining in the 4th quarter, but Goff was unable to convert on a 4th & 4 in Jets territory. Jets safety Marcus Maye was able to force an incompletion in man coverage, deflecting Goff’s pass. The Rams’ turned the ball over on downs, and the Jets were able to run the clock out on the ensuing possession.
If the Rams are going to make the playoffs (let alone get a win), they will need to protect Jared Goff better than they did today. Goff is not a very athletic QB, so giving him time in the pocket is crucial. The Jets got too much pressure on him, and he really struggled in the first half. This was an embarrassing loss for Los Angeles, and they will need to tighten up. They face the division leading Seattle Seahawks next week.
San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys (41-33 Cowboys)
The NFC East has been one of, if not the strangest divisions, this year. Even after losing Dak Prescott and an underwhelming performance of Zeke Elliot, they are 4-9 and still in the playoff picture. Every game from here on out (if not stated explicitly) is a must win. Andy Dalton and company were able to keep their playoff hopes alive by beating a very depleted 49ers team, just trying to get to the end of the season at this point.
Andy Dalton went 19-33 with 209 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was under pressure all game, but was able to make some plays and get the screen game going with running back Tony Pollard. Pollard has been a revelation for Dallas, with Zeke’s sub-par 2020 campaign. Pollard was able to combine for 124 yards running and receiving. Every week of great play from Pollard has the media and fans question the large deal for Zeke from last season. CeeDee Lamb also had a great game with 8 catches for 85 yards. He was also able to contribute on special teams with a touchdown there. This brings Lamb’s yearly totals to 69 catches, with 892 yards, and 5 receiving TDs, a rushing touchdown, and a touchdown on the return today. He was one of my breakout players of the year that I wrote about at the beginning of the season. I thought being on the other side of Amari Cooper would open up a lot of opportunities for him. With Dak going down and Andy stepping in, there was an obvious downgrade at QB, but Lamb is still having a good rookie campaign.
The 49ers put up a valiant effort trying to ride their strong running scheme and backup QB Nick Mullens’ arm. He went 21-36 for 219 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. The rushing attack was a combination of Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. Those two, with a few other contributors, combined for 150 yards. Mullen was able to keep the offense moving with the run game and play action off the bootleg. He was unfortunately replaced by CJ Bethard late in the 4th quarter. Bethard was able to go 5 for 7 with 100 yards and a last play Hail Mary to Kendrick Borne in the end zone, for a touchdown. This game goes to show that the 49ers are still in serious need of a Quarterback, this was a game they could have easily won if not for poor QB play. With Jimmy Garoppolo constantly getting injured, they will have to seriously look at dragging a QB. Most mock drafts have them taking a quarterback with their 1st round pick this year.
The Cowboys are still in the fight in the miserable NFC East. They sit right below the Washington Football Team in the standings, but it seems like a forgone conclusion that whoever gets in will have a first round exit. Dallas plays the Eagles next week in another divisional game that will go far in determining the playoff standings and clear up the NFC playoff picture.