The other day I vomited in my mouth a little as I tried to explain how the Seattle Seahawks would win the NFC West. Believe me, writing it was much more difficult than you having to read it.
Well it gets worse. I’m going to do it again, this time with the Los Angeles Rams. Unlike the Seahawks, I have not done an opponent preview of them (coming this week) but I think I’ve made my thoughts on them pretty apparent. The Rams have one of the best rosters in the league, coming in under the radar not unlike the San Francisco 49ers in 2012. Even as a 49ers fan, if I were a betting man, the Rams would be the safe bet, but it’s not necessarily the best bet.
Here’s a reason for and against the Rams winning the NFC West
Reason for: The roster
One thing is undeniable, the Rams have, on paper, the best roster in the division. This is something dripping with talent. Besides Jared Goff who is still unproven (he needs another year with defenses adjusting) they have Aaron Donald, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh on the defensive side of the ball. On the offensive side they have Todd Gurley, the emerging Cooper Kupp, and one of the best offensive lines in the league. Most of that line is hitting free agency in 2019, but that’s not 2018, which means the 49ers have all sorts of issues.
The 49ers pass rush has been on the opposite end of the spectrum and when you put a underperforming pass rush against one of the best offensive lines, my friend, that’s just not going to end well for the defense. Let’s not forget what happens to the new and improved, yet unproven 49ers offensive line when they go up against those beasts listed above. Suh, Donald, who else are they going to send to hunt Jimmy Garoppolo? With Wade Phillips coaching the defense, this is a group that can stop the run and knock out the passer. Again, on paper, this is a compliment to the 49ers weaknesses. The Seahawks don’t have the talent and Arizona? Well, let’s not go into that right now. As it stands, the Rams have gone all in to make a roster that can go the distance.
Reason against: Those personalities, man
So what happens if something goes wrong? What happens if the wrong thing gets said or the wrong loss hurts the team? This has been seen before when things blow up at the worst times. When that happens, everything could fall apart and they may not salvage things until it’s too late.
You’ve got Suh, Peters, and Talib all on the same roster? Forget the division, the Rams have a target on their backs within the league and if they encounter some losses, that could trickle into their divisional matchups where no one wants to help anybody.
The Rams are still a question mark with everyone on there. One season, even one in the playoffs doesn’t make one a force in the NFC. Sure the Rams went to the playoffs with this roster last year and their rookie head coach, but so did the 2008 Miami Dolphins under Tony Sparano in his first year. How’d that tenure turn out in subsequent years (answer: Chad Pennington, Chad Henne, and Sparano getting sacked)?
So if teams get film and study the Rams and start to make things difficult, you can bet that is a locker room that is on par with an active volcano ready to erupt. One strong personality can oftentimes be hard to handle, but the number they have in there could be their downfall.
And all of it could start with Jarred Goff if he regresses...