Week 7: Perfect time for a Rams winning streak

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Rams and Cardinals colliding paths appear to be perfect timing for both with their recent play. Where either goes from here may depend on how well they perform outside their comfort zone…literally.

“Looking forward, don’t be surprised if the Los Angeles Rams put together a string of victories to again stand alone atop their division.” ~A casually-mentioned line from an article I wrote last week before the team’s win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That matter of opinion footnote looms larger this week and needs to happen in order for the Rams to win the NFC West.

They were underdogs against a Jaguars team that was playing much better than the Arizona Cardinals had been at that time. Of course, the Cardinals traded for Adrian Peterson and all appears right with the Red Birds’ world again. This makes for a very interesting three-team mid-season run once you include the Seattle Seahawks. And yes, I said three-team — my editor likes time well spent.

A short-term look at the division race sheds some light on an interesting stretch run to the postseason:

The Seattle Seahawks (3-2)

The Seahawks outlasted the Rams in Week 5 in a game even some Seattle locals admitted they probably should’ve lost. Technically, they regained the division lead only to lose a half game to both foes during a Week 6 bye. They return to face the ailing New York Giants Sunday (1-5), a victory they’re nearly a lock to achieve completes their current three-game winning streak. However, two weeks away the real fun starts. Seattle will meet head-on a tough four-game stretch in their schedule that starts with the dangerous Houston Texans, followed by the Washington Redskins, the Cardinals away and Atlanta Falcons. In other words, it’s no cakewalk.

The Arizona Cardinals (3-3)

Underdogs against the Rams Sunday and figure to have a tough go at it, the Cardinals start that same four-game stretch with a bye and end it with those same Texans. Sandwiched in between are the San Francisco 49ers and Seahawks, a somewhat milder stretch. Of course, the exact measure of mildness greatly depends on the current Adrian Peterson-inspired surge taking firm hold. Consider also that Arizona is the team most affected by injuries of the three at the moment. That and losing this weekend would make NFL life really difficult for any third-place team.

The Los Angeles Rams (4-2)

Also starting that four-game stretch with a bye after battling Arizona, the Rams will need to control their own destiny. They get what’s supposed to be a break with the Giants Week 9. After that, those Texans and the Minnesota Vikings, no pushovers either. But of the three teams, and coming back to Week 10 with the Texans, Los Angeles has it the worst. From Weeks 10-16, the Rams are the only of the trio without alleged easy victims, Giants or 49ers. It is easily their toughest stretch of the 2017 season as it stands now, seven games long.

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One under-recognized 2017 achievement becomes more crucial with every game. As yet, the opponents the Rams are undeniably supposed to have beaten, they’ve beaten. In previous years this could not be confidently said despite the occasional fast starts. But like some past games, the squad is also winning games in which the offense fails to hit on all cylinders. The difference being, this offense has yet to hit on all cylinders for four quarters — or the defense for that matter.

It’s a huge confidence-builder down the stretch if this young team holds, or dare I say, builds upon their division lead. A good-enough showing still keeps the team within the NFC playoffs hunt by way of a wild-card berth. But in an NFL season somewhat watered-down by injuries and some surprisingly bad play, it’s an ideal time for long shots. What’s more, it’s the perfect time for younger teams to string together wins and make older rivals play catch-up.