In LA Rams News: Rams 16th-ranked NFL team by SI’s Rick Gosselin
So the early dismal outlook of the LA Rams has moderated somewhat. Another national sportswriter, Sports Illustrated’s Rick Gosselin, projects the LA Rams at the NFL midpoint for the 2020 NFL season. In his latest article, Gosselin ranks the LA Rams as the 16th-ranked team in the NFL. And in an almost duplication of an earlier reported ranking by Peter King, the entire NFC West is ranked in the same order. Is that a coincidence, or a matter of comparing notes just a bit too closely?
After all, is it really a coincidence that Peter King’s Power Ranking ruled the San Francisco 49ers to be the fourth-ranked team in the NFL, and Rick Gosselin agrees that they are the fourth-ranked team? Or that the Seattle Seahawks are the sixth-ranked team in the NFL in both articles? Or that the LA Rams are the 16th-ranked team in both? Or even that the Arizona Cardinals are the 18th-ranked team in both articles?
With so many similarities, and each author claiming the rankings to be of their own perspective, I decided to compare the two. The first “difference” occurred at the fifth-ranked team. While Rick Gosselin projects the Green Bay Packers there, King believes that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will climb to that spot. The next difference in their rankings was at the seventh-ranked position. While Gosselin projects the Buffalo Bills to that lofty height among NFL teams, King projects the Tennessee Titans to the spot.
So the two articles are not the same, only identical to the ranking of NFC West teams. Satisfied that the two articles were in fact different, I began to analyze why both writers ranked NFL West teams in the order and in the positions that they had decided.
NFC West ranks best
In both cases, the authors felt that the San Francisco 49ers will once again master the NFL as it had in 2019. While both agree that the 49ers had lost significant talent in DT DeForest Buckner via trade and OT Joe Staley to retirement, both believe that the 49ers replaced both with rookie DT Javon Kinlaw and OT Trent Williams. Gosselin ignores the collapse of the Seattle Seahawks offensive line and believes the addition of RB Carlos Hyde Will allow the Seahawks to run effectively enough to win games and protect a vulnerable defense.
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Finally, Gosselin cited the addition of WR DeAndre Hopkins to pair up with a special quarterback in Kyler Murray that will boost the Arizona Cardinals in 2020. He even adds the addition of Isaiah Simmons as a reason to believe the Cardinals league-worst defense in 2019 will improve dramatically in 2020. Despite that, he fails to acknowledge that the Arizona Cardinals offense was not a top-10 in the NFL in 2019. Will Hopkins make it so? That remains to be seen.
LA Rams stuck in neutral
Despite the optimism for NFC West teams overall, the LA Rams once more are passed on by. Gosselin cites the Rams as a “shell of the juggernaut” which went to the Super Bowl in 2018. he then cites:
"“Offensive catalysts RB Todd Gurley and WR Brandin Cooks are gone as are defensive stallwarts Ndamukong Suh, Cory Littleton and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib“"
without any mention of the fact that four of the six players (Gurley, Cooks, Peters and Talib) were no longer performing for the Rams at anywhere near their best, or even their average. And to no surprise, there was no mention of the LA Rams boasting two 1000 yard receivers on offense in Cooper Kupp or Robert Woods, a breakout offensive star in tight-end Tyler Higbee, or two All-Pro defensive standouts in Aaron Donald or Jalen Ramsey. While we have examined the type of season which could play to the LA Rams season becoming a full-blown disaster, it’s hard to accept the extreme misfortunes needed to cause that as likely.
In the end, it’s simply easier for national writers to look at the Rams falling from 13-3 to 9-7 and conclude that the 2020 version of the LA Rams will remain stuck in neutral at 8-8 this season. While that will likely be the norm for the Rams this year, don’t be lulled into lowering expectations for the Rams this season. The 2019 version of the Rams, while facing a host of challenges, may prove to be a more balanced roster. Certainly, the entire coaching staff is doing more than checking the boxes this year.