With the Hall-of-Fame game out of the way, the start of the NFL season is finally upon us. With football season comes the arbitrary, oft-biased power rankings of all the teams in the NFL. For nearly a decade, the St. Louis Rams have graced the bottom of the league, consistently battling with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, and the Kansas City Chiefs to keep their name out of the 32nd spot. Now, with the Rams’ seemingly improved in every area of the team, will they get moved up in the ranks?
Here is Ramblin’ Fan’s first power rankings round-up. Since the Hall-of-Fame game is technically not a preseason contest, we have dubbed this compilation the “pre-preseason” power rankings! Enjoy…
CBS Sports: 15th
Word is they will open up the offense. We shall see. They need to do so with Sam Bradford.
The Rams have gotten younger and faster at the skill positions, which should help the team more fully evaluate QB Sam Bradford.
Pro Football Talk: 17th
The Rams won four of their final six games to end last year with losses to Minnesota and Seattle – both playoff teams. They should be improved again this year with some added stability to the offensive line and some help for Bradford offensively.
After showing flashes of his talent as a rookie, Bradford hasn’t been able to live up to expectations yet in his first three seasons. With Cook and Austin joining the squad, Bradford will finally have some dynamic weapons in the passing game to work with and a defense that should be able to keep them in games. Defensively, the Rams should take a step forward as well if Ogletree and McDonald can take hold of starting jobs in the back seven.
St. Louis has a chance to challenge for a playoff spot this season but finding a way into the postseason will be a difficult challenge out of the NFC West. If Seattle or San Francisco slip, the Rams could be right on their heels to take advantage and leave someone unexpectedly home in January.
Sports Illustrated: 19th
The Rams were 7-8-1 in 2012, with a 2-1-1 mark against San Francisco and Seattle. Did anyone notice? Sam Bradford’s in a make-or-break year, flanked by new arrivals Jared Cook, Tavon Austin and Zac Stacy. The defense is counting on rookies Alec Ogletree and T.J. McDonald – possibly too much for this team to be considered a true threat before 2014.
Sporting News: 14th
The Rams figured out how to stick with division front-runners Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers because of Chris Long and their defense. If they want to keep up the momentum under Jeff Fisher, it’s time for Sam Bradford to hold the weight in a Steven Jackson-less offense.
Bleacher Report: 12th
2003 was the last time St. Louis experienced a winning season, but there’s reason to believe that losing trend will be bucked after a decade.
The Rams went 2-1-1 against the likes of the 49ers and Seahawks last year, with the only loss coming in the season finale 20-13 at Seattle, where the hosts didn’t lose a game all season.
Like the two aforementioned teams, St. Louis plays hard-nosed defense. A set of corners consisting of Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins can truly be one of the game’s best, and adding athletic weak-side linebacker Alec Ogletree to the mix should make the unit even more intimidating.
QB Sam Bradford has a unique rookie in Tavon Austin at his disposal, who should seriously contend for the NFL’s top offensive rookie award. Austin is rather diminutive in stature but has ridiculous quickness and proven durability to survive in the pros.
Talented tight end Jared Cook gives Bradford a red-zone threat, while Chris Givens’ speed can be utilized on downfield throws. Bradford, the former No. 1 overall pick, is due to live up to his billing.
We keep waiting for Sam Bradford to emerge. The process becomes easier with multi-dimensional talent Tavon Austin in the house, but it’s a stretch to think the Rams can keep up in what has suddenly become a dominant division.