LOS ANGELES RAMS
83rd SEASON – 52nd IN LOS ANGELES (and the 3rd season back after 21 years in St. Louis)
2017 Record: 11-5
- NFC WEST CHAMPIONS, for the first time since 2003
Playoffs: Lost to the Atlanta Falcons in the first round, 26-13, at the Coliseum, on January 6, 2018
Coach: Sean McVay, 2nd season
Home: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, capacity 77,500
Key Returning Players (2017 stats):
- Jared Goff, QB: 3,804 yards, 62.1% completions, 28 TD, 7 INT
- Todd Gurley II, RB (NFL Offensive Player of the Year): 1,305 rushing yards, 4.7 ypc, 13 TD / 64 receptions, 788 receiving yards, 6 TD
- Cooper Kupp, WR: 62 receptions, 869 yards, 5 TD
- Robert Woods, WR: 56 receptions, 781 yards, 5 TD
- Sammy Watkins, WR: 39 receptions, 593 yards, 8 TD
- Aaron Donald, DT (NFL Defensive Player of the Year): 32 tackles, 11.0 sacks
- Marc Barron, LB: 72 tackles, 3 INT
- Aqib Talib, CB: 31 tackles, 1 INT for TD (with Denver)
- Lamarcus Joyner, FS: 39 tackles, 3 INT
- Namukong Suh, NT: 29 tackles, 4.5 sacks (with Miami)
Key Games (outside of the division):
- At Oakland Raiders, September 10th
- Los Angeles Chargers, September 23rd
- Minnesota Vikings, September 27th
- Philadelphia Eagles, December 16th
An official highlight film of the 2017 Los Angeles Rams, courtesy of YouTube (just click on the link)
A Few Thoughts:
Any NFL team that has:
- A quarterback that put up big numbers last season and is coming into his prime,
- A young coach – the youngest in the league – who’s considered a wunderkind,
- The reigning AP Offensive Player of the Year,
- The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and…
- New key players on defense, including an absolute beast of a defensive lineman who’s expected to be the perfect complement the league’s defensive player of the year,
Well, let’s put it like this…
Only someone who is a combination of a fool and an idiot would not consider these Rams as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
While I am in full agreement that the Rams have a more than decent shot at being the NFC’s representative in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on February 3, 2019,
As is always the case with SoCal teams with this type of talent, I am reluctant to automatically give Goff, Gurley, Donald, and company the Vince Lombardi Trophy as of this moment, for these particular reasons…
- The Atlanta Falcons
- The Minnesota Vikings
- The Philadelphia Eagles
- Not to mention the New England Patriots from the AFC
These are teams that all play in the same conference as the Rams and are equally as good, the Falcons knocking them out of the playoffs in the grand tradition of “One and Done”,
The Vikings going 13-3 with only the Eagles stopping them from the Super Bowl,
And as for those Eagles…
They’re only the defending National Football League champions for the first time since 1960 – 57 years! – won with a backup quarterback no less, and show no apparent signs of a hangover that plagues so many teams that won a title.
Although I’m not crowning those Rams as champs as of yet, their talent is at a point where not only is it young and peaking,
Todd Gurley II, voted the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year for 2017 by the AP. Photo courtesy of nfl.com
The stars have a good chance of aligning, as I see them as not being exactly chopped liver compared to the Falcons, Vikings and Eagles.
The keys to L.A. achieving what more or less every Rams fan expects them to achieve in 2018,
Which will establish them once and for all and the best football team in SoCal – despite the much larger Raider following,
Is essentially three things…
- Stay focused – no bad mistakes or screw-ups that loses winnable games,
- Have all the lucky bounces go their way, and (most importantly),
- STAY HEALTHY
I plan to be especially watching the four key games listed with much interest, as those are the game in which, after they are played, I will have a better idea of the Rams’ chances for giving SoCal only their second Super Bowl title – the first being the Raiders in 1983.
Can anyone else besides me believe that it’s been 35 years since there’s been a championship parade in downtown Los Angeles celebrating a pro football team?
Obviously speaking, I think that’s incredible.
And those Rams have a pretty decent shot at breaking that three and a half decade drought.
As I have stated, I’m not about to give the Rams that trophy as of now.
I want to see how they come out of the gate,
How they handle being a legitimate contender,
And most of all, how they match up against those Vikings and Eagles when they come to the Coliseum, and (especially in the Eagles’ case, as their followers make the Raider fans, with their reputation, look like choir boys) how they handle their fan bases who will most likely outnumber the Rams’.
OK, here’s my official prediction:
I see these Rams winning 12-13 games and repeating as NFC West champions
I also see them as having a good chance at getting past the first round of the playoffs this year, because of their young talent reaching their peak and the additions they made on defense.
I only hope that those Rams stay healthy and that things bounce their way, because that’s what all championship teams need.
In other words, I strongly believe that any post season glory will be hard-fought for and hard-earned.
I’ll definitely know a lot more this coming Monday night after they face the Raiders and their “Black Hole” in the East Bay.