While it may not feel like it, the Los Angeles Rams are still very much playoff contenders. No, this isn’t the same team strutting to a first-place division finish like they did last season. However, the Los Angeles Rams are still contenders for a playoff spot at the halfway point of the season.
Los Angeles Rams Still Playoff Contenders Halfway Through The Season
As good as Los Angeles looked last season, history was never on their side in terms of a return trip to the Super Bowl. Before the New England Patriots did it last season, no team had made it back to the Super Bowl after losing since the 1994 Buffalo Bills. In addition, judging from how the 2018 season ended, it was obvious that running back Todd Gurley would come into the season on a carry-count.
Still, the Rams entered the new season with high hopes and even higher expectations. While the season has gone just about the opposite of what many had hoped, over the last couple of weeks, the Rams have quieted the talk of their season being over. Granted, they have played two of the worst teams in the league back-to-back weeks, but the Rams hadn’t looked much a threat themselves. However, with the Bye Week ahead, the Rams have thrown their name to the mix of NFC teams vying for a postseason appearance, and they have a better chance than many may think.
Gurley issues aside, the biggest problem for the Rams this season has been health. Having placed guard Joseph Noteboom, cornerback Aqib Talib, and safety John Johnson on injured reserve already, they’ve also dealt with a slew of injuries along an already unstable offensive line. Luckily, with the aforementioned bye week coming up, those who aren’t out for the year can have a week to get healthy. In addition, it gives a chance for the young talent that coaches are high on, notably safety Taylor Rapp, to have an extra week of learning the system and their responsibilities in it.
The remaining schedule for the Rams is a mixed bag, somewhere between finding 20 dollars on the ground, and sticking your hand in a bag of splinters. They return from the Bye, on the road against the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers and still have two divisional games against the Arizona Cardinals. However, they also host the Chicago Bears, travel to face the Dallas Cowboys, and have divisional games against the Seahawks and currently undefeated 49ers remaining.
Having already played Seattle close earlier in the season, LA know they have a legitimate shot against any of the remaining teams on their schedule. Continuing to build momentum and confidence is key for the Rams, and getting a win against the Steelers, is all but a must-win, should they want to keep pace in a tough NFC.
The dream of winning the division ended with San Francisco extending their undefeated streak to seven games. Breathing down their neck, the 6-2 Seahawks. It would take something incredibly catastrophic for both of those teams to slip up enough for the Rams to overtake them. However, despite how tough the top teams in the conference have looked, the Rams are still very much in position to keep a Wild Card spot secured.
Currently sixth in the NFC, they are in the thick of fighting for one of the two Wild Card spots for the conference. Luckily for Los Angeles, six of their last eight games are against opponents in their conference. Putting their destiny squarely on their shoulders. The most important thing for this team to do is realize that it’s okay not to be the same team from last year. Much like Rex Ryan burying the ball, it’s time for head coach Sean McVay, and everyone else, to bury the 2018 Rams.
The most impressive thing about the Rams this season has been their togetherness. Throughout all the questions and the doubt, they have remained steadfast in their support of one another. Yes, there have been tense podium moments and looks of disinterest, but make no mistake, that has zero to do with what happens on the field. You would be annoyed too if you had to answer 100 variations of the same question, for six months straight.
In terms of football, this team is together, and they still believe. Veteran Eric Weddle has been vocal over the past few weeks in making sure everyone was clear that the Rams are not done yet. After the Rams’ third straight loss, Weddle made it clear there was still time, saying ” it takes just one game, getting back to the basics.” Since then, the Rams have won two in a row, and by a wide margin. Again, not the best competition, but in a season that saw them give up 55 points to the Buccaneers, nothing is given.
Next week, the Rams can relax at home, rest up, and get healthy for the second-half of the season. They will come together even more, now having a couple of wins to feel good about. They will have to keep that momentum when they return, as games against the Steelers and Bears will prove to be difficult mid-season tests. It may not seem like it, but the Los Angeles Rams are still contenders and remain in the driver’s seat for their postseason aspirations. Whether they cruise into January, or crash by Thanksgiving, is the question they will have to answer when they return.
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