- Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers is out for the 2021 season after tearing his Achilles in training
- The Rams’ odds to win the Super Bowl have already slipped a bit with some sportsbooks but could continue to do so with training camp around the corner
- Read below for updated Super Bowl 56 odds and analysis
The Los Angeles Rams’ hopes for another deep playoff run suffered a major blow on Tuesday when second-year running back Cam Akers tore his Achilles.
After last season, LA shortened its odds to win Super Bowl 56 from +2000 to +1100 following its quarterback swap for Matthew Stafford. Since then, the Rams slipped a bit to around +1250, but that number figures to increase without one of its offense’s top playmakers. Bettors that were high on the Rams may look elsewhere in the meantime, which could contribute to another swing in the team’s odds in the coming weeks.
Kansas City and Tampa Bay remain the two top teams in the most recent Super Bowl odds, somewhere in the neighborhood of +450 and +675 respectively. The Rams had been just behind division foe San Francisco, but the gap between the two stands to widen in light of Tuesday’s news.
Super Bowl 56 Odds
|Kansas City Chiefs||+500|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+650|
|San Francisco 49ers||+1300|
|Los Angeles Rams||+1400|
|Green Bay Packers||+1600|
Odds as of July 20 at FanDuel
Where Does Akers’ Injury Leave LA’s Backfield?
The 2020 second-rounder led the team in rushing as a rookie, with 625 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games. However, he was only the team’s leading back by one yard over Darrell Henderson, who started 11 games and had five touchdowns.
Cam Akers sustains torn Achilles
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) July 20, 2021
By Week 12 of last season, Akers was clearly the preferred runner for the Rams after he broke out with 84 yards and a score against the 49ers the previous week. In Week 13, he had his biggest game of the year, with 171 rushing yards on 29 carries in a win against New England. Prior to Week 12, Henderson logged double-digit carries in six games, highlighted by a 114-yard effort against Buffalo in Week 3. For what it’s worth, Henderson also ran for a slightly higher average of yards over expectation than Akers did in 2020.
Behind Henderson, things are a little dicier. The next two running backs on the depth chart are 2020 undrafted rookie Xavier Jones and former seventh-rounder Raymond Calais. Jones didn’t log a carry for the Rams last season, while Calais only saw the field as a return man for Tampa Bay.
"It's a great feeling of anguish from the #Rams because they love Cam Akers & he was set to have a huge season
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) July 20, 2021
Speculation that LA may try to re-connect with former running back Todd Gurley has already begun, but there’s no question that Akers offered more upside than he does at this point. Also, Gurley isn’t likely to forget that the Rams waited months to pay him his final bonus after they released him following the 2019 season. Otherwise, there aren’t too many names that inspire a great deal of confidence left on the free agent market, so a potential addition is more likely to be for depth rather than a plug-and-play starter.
Impact on the Field and Value
How Akers’ absence affects the offense really comes down to his projected improvement.
Darrell Henderson stonks 📈 pic.twitter.com/tEmPEQW0B4
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) July 20, 2021
Last season, LA averaged just 33.89 yards per drive, but the Rams were also the most effective rushing team in the league on first down. Henderson actually graded out as a better receiver and pass-blocker than Akers, which is significant following the trade for Stafford. Los Angeles threw the ball 55% of the time in 2020, and with a healthy group of receivers and a new QB, head coach Sean McVay may take that ratio even higher.
Losing Akers is like deja vu for Stafford after years of chronic running back injuries and issues in Detroit, but he remains one of the NFL’s top downfield chance-takers. Still, Jared Goff finished with a higher completion and expected completion percentage than Stafford last season, and was within 100 passing yards of him.
Matthew Stafford: 85.7 career PFF Grade (14th)
— PFF (@PFF) July 12, 2021
The NFC South was already a competitive division with teams that feature pretty clear strengths and weaknesses, but it’s difficult to be overly bullish on the Rams’ upside. Relative to last season, they have a thinner roster to contend with the tenth-hardest strength of schedule heading into 2021. The loss of an X-Factor like Akers makes LA a less attractive team overall and moves the Rams closer to a coin-flip play with Green Bay, pending a resolution to the Aaron Rodgers saga.
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