If not for the Green Bay Packers’ Sunday evening surprise win in opposition to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Los Angeles Rams would at the moment have the ultimate playoff spot within the NFC. They’re on a three-game successful streak since their bye week and the offense is buzzing even with Cooper Kupp sidelined with an damage for a second time this season.
The Rams have topped 35 factors in consecutive weeks, together with a Week 13, 36-19 victory in opposition to the Cleveland Browns and their excellent protection. With a schedule that’s gentle on competitors till a Week 18 matchup in opposition to the San Francisco 49ers, the Rams have rapidly circled a group that bottomed out final season.
Their “F them picks,” technique lastly ran out of steam in 2022. Mix that with important accidents to Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald, they usually simply didn’t have sufficient fighters to defend their championship. The Rams completed the 2022 season 5-12, which was the third-worst file within the NFC. In addition they, per traditional, didn’t have a first-round choice. The Rams haven’t had a choose within the first spherical of the draft since they chose Jared Goff No. 1 total in 2016.
Nevertheless, they did hit a house run within the fifth spherical of the 2023 NFL Draft. CJ Stroud goes to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, however Puka Nacua made him work for it. The Rams’ rookie large receiver has been on a tear since opening the season with a 10-catch, 119-yard debut.
In 12 video games, he has hauled in 77 passes for 1,029 yards and 4 touchdowns. He fell within the draft due to issues about his velocity. Solely Nacua, Tyreek Hill and Deebo Samuel have clocked in at 20 or extra miles per hour on each a reception and a rush this season. The Rams lastly let Nacua run some jet sweeps in opposition to the Browns — he scored 5 speeding touchdowns in his ultimate 12 months of faculty. On two carries he totaled 34 yards.
Nacua has not been the one standout in Sean McVay’s high-flying offense. Second-year operating again Kyren Williams — one other fifth-round choose — has rushed for 687 yards and 7 touchdowns regardless of lacking 5 video games resulting from damage. Tutu Atwell has been sturdy because the No. 2 receiver for many of this season with Kupp lacking a lot time. Royce Freeman has been a gradual No. 2 again, averaging 4.6 yards per carry.
Additionally, Stafford has performed in each sport this season. His turnovers are excessive with 9 interceptions, however that was inevitable when combining his gunslinging fashion with a gaggle of younger large receivers. Stafford has accomplished 60.7 % of his passes in 2023 for two,768 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Rams’ offense is ninth in DVOA.
Whereas the offense has largely been rolling all season, the protection has struggled. Outdoors of Aaron Donald, the Rams don’t have any big-name expertise on that facet of the ball. For the reason that bye week, although, they haven’t allowed a group to interrupt 20 factors as soon as. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon has been a no-fly zone for opposing offenses in his contract 12 months.
After this season, $80 million in useless cash comes off of the Rams’ books. In addition they nonetheless have their first-round choose within the 2024 NFL Draft. Promoting younger skilled athletes on working in Los Angeles shouldn’t be an issue throughout the offseason.
For now, the Rams have pieced collectively one helluva 2023. That they had all of that useless cash on the books and 7 years with no first-round choose holding them again. The Rams charged forward, horns first, and with 5 video games remaining on a positive schedule, the playoffs are effectively inside their grasp.
The Rams despatched away greater than half a decade of prime draft capital and gathered a staggering quantity of debt. In doing so that they have appeared in two Tremendous Bowls — successful one — and 2022 was solely their second dropping season since returning to Los Angeles. I suppose “F them picks” was the “F’n proper” technique.