Don’t look now, but the Los Angeles Rams are dangerous and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
The Los Angeles Rams are the best team in the NFC. Someone had to say it, and I am that someone.
This past Sunday, in what very well may be the most impressive win of the season for any team, the Rams absolutely decimated the Seattle Seahawks, with a final score of 42-7.
Keep in mind this game was held in Seattle, where the Seahawks almost never lose. Seattle was also only two weeks removed from beating the team who at the time, was the best in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles. So this game against the Seahawks was no easy win, but the Rams sure did make it look that way.
I know it is a bold proclamation to declare a team the best in a conference that is as stacked as the current NFC, but the Rams fully deserve the respect I am giving them.
Just look at what the team has done this season. They currently have the top scoring offense in football, averaging 31.3 points per game, and the fifth best scoring defense, allowing only 19.4 points per game.
The only other team that is in the top five in both of these categories is the Jacksonville Jaguars. It is no coincidence that the 2016 Super Bowl champs, the New England Patriots, were also one of the only two teams to finish in the top five in both of these categories, along with the Dallas Cowboys.
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On top of being statistically one of the best teams in the league this year, the Rams possess the most valuable asset a potential Super Bowl team can have — top tier coaches.
Head coach Sean McVay is perhaps the most talented offensive mind in all of football. This is apparent by the fact that upon his arrival, the Rams went from dead last in scoring offense in 2016, to first this year. To think this turnaround is a coincidence, would be naive.
To pair with McVay, the Rams also have one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL, Wade Phillips. Wade Phillips has completely turned around this defense, in similar fashion to how McVay did the offense. In 2016, the Rams were just 23rd in scoring defense. Compare that to the 5th best scoring defense that Phillips brought the team to this year, and the impact is clear.
If your belief in Phillips still needs a little more convincing, just look at the Denver Broncos statistics with and without him. In 2015 and 2016 with Wade Phillips, the Broncos possessed the 4th best scoring defense in both years. This year without him, they are currently 20th. His elite coaching prowess is undeniable.
It is clear that the Rams are an elite team, but what about the other contenders in the NFC?
The first team that may come to mind when thinking of teams that may be better than the Rams is the Eagles. After all, they did beat Los Angeles just a few weeks ago.
If you were to think the Eagles are better than the Rams, then you’d be right, if we were in some alternate dimension where Carson Wentz never tore his ACL. When the best team in the NFL loses their MVP caliber quarterback, it’s hard to imagine them staying at the same level.
So when Wentz has a functioning ACL, the Eagles are better. Too bad he doesn’t.
With the Eagles set aside by Wentz’s injury, there is one more team that potentially stand in the Rams way, the Minnesota Vikings. This is the one NFC team that you can make a legitimate argument for them being better than Los Angeles, purely off the fact that they defeated the Rams in week 10.
The loss against the Vikings was a typical case of a young team not being able to handle when the lights are shining the brightest. While it results in another loss on their record, this type of loss is not necessarily a bad thing.
Every young team needs these kinds of losses, as they can learn from it and come out a better team. It is clear that they did just that, as they came back the very next week and took down one of the hottest teams in the NFL, the New Orleans Saints.
It is also very difficult to defeat a well-coached team twice in a single season. Because of this I believe if they were to see the Vikings again in the playoffs, the Rams would come out on top. The main reason they lost is because the team could not stop Vikings wide receiver, Adam Thielen.
In this game, two of the teams top three corners went out with injuries midway through the game, and the Vikings took advantage. There is no way Wade Phillips lets Adam Thielen beat them a second time, especially if the team is healthy. Elite coaches make necessary adjustments to prevent that type of thing from occurring again, and Phillips is just that.
In the end, I anticipate seeing both of these teams in the NFC Championship game.
At this point, the Rams have everything they need to make a super bowl run. The only obstacle standing in their way is themselves.
The potential that this young team may fold under pressure is still there, but their schedule has been riddled with playoff teams, and this team has shown that they have what it takes to compete with the best of the best.