Rams Still Favored to Win NFC West Despite Cam Akers’ Achilles Injury

  • RB Cam Akers suffered a season-ending Achilles injury during a workout on Monday
  • Darrell Henderson expected to get first crack at the Rams’ starting running back job
  • LA remains a slight +180 favorite to beat out San Francisco (+200), Seattle (+275) for NFC West crown

Full NFL training camps haven’t even started yet, but one Super Bowl 56 hopeful has already been dealt a major injury blow. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Rams announced that starting running back Cam Akers will miss the entire 2021 season after suffering a torn Achilles. 

Akers reportedly suffered the injury during a workout on Monday, with subsequent testing confirming the extent of the injury. The Rams did not specify how long Akers will be sidelined, but Achilles injuries are almost always season-enders. 

Akers’ Brutal Injury

The Los Angeles Rams were one of the most run-heavy offenses in football last season, and Akers was expected to step into a leading role heading into his second pro campaign. The former second-round pick emerged as the focal point of LA’s rushing offense as last season progressed, and he finished as the Rams’ leading rusher with 625 yards on 145 carries. Akers added 11 catches for 123 yards with three total touchdowns, as well. 

The rookie contributed a total of 272 all-purpose yards with a pair of touchdowns across the Rams’ two playoff games, as well. Akers started last season in a timeshare in the backfield with Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown before establishing himself as LA’s go-to back in the latter stages of the year. 

With Akers out for the year, Henderson is expected to get the first crack at the starting role this season. Henderson, 23, was a third-round pick back in 2019 out of Memphis. In 28 games across two seasons with Los Angeles, Henderson has gained 771 yards on 177 carries with five touchdowns. He has also caught 20 of his 30 targets for 196 yards and another score. Xavier Jones, Raymond Calais, and rookie Jake Funk are the only other running backs expected to compete for playing time next season. 

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported later Tuesday that Sean McVay is happy with the running backs already on the roster, and that the team is not expected to dip into the free agency market in an attempt to add more depth at the position. Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Le’Veon Bell, and Frank Gore are among the experienced running backs still available in free agency.

The Rams ran the ball on 44.25 percent of their plays from scrimmage last season, which was the seventh-highest rate in the NFL. However, the loss of Akers combined with the offseason trade for ex-Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford may lead to a more pass-heavy attack for LA in 2021. With Stafford under center for most of last season, the Lions were the fourth-most pass-heavy offense in the NFL. 

Rams Remain NFC West Favorites

Most expect LA’s offense to take a step forward next season after swapping the inconsistent Jared Goff for Stafford. The NFC West was one of the toughest divisions in the league a season ago, and the Rams punched their ticket to the NFC playoffs as a Wild Card with a 10-6 record. Los Angeles finished two games behind the Seattle Seahawks and two games ahead of the third-place Arizona Cardinals. 

The Rams wound up upsetting the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs before falling at Green Bay to the Packers in the Divisional Round. Armed with a new, more established QB, the Rams are now +180 favorites to win the NFC West at a variety of NFL betting sites. The San Francisco 49ers, who dealt with countless injury problems last year, are listed at +200. The Seahawks aren’t far behind at +275, while the Cardinals are bringing up the rear at +600. 

The Rams also have the second-best odds of any team to win the NFC (+550), trailing only the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+300). LA currently has the fourth-best odds of any team (+1300) to win Super Bowl 56.

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