FanSided’s Stacking the Box podcast claims LA Rams are not a 2020 NFL playoff team. Ironically, the Rams will likely be better than last season’s 9-7 team.
The LA Rams are one of the most talented teams in the NFL. All-Pro Aaron Donal, Johnny Hekker, and Jalen Ramsey think so. So too do wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, both 1,000-yard receivers last year. Even tight end Tyler Higbee, who was the best receiver in the NFL for December 2019, thinks so. What dropped the Rams from a 13-3 NFC Championship team to a 9-7 team that missed the playoffs was the huge number of player injuries.
Despite the huge waves of injuries in 2019, up to 20 of 53 players suffered significant injuries in 2019, the Rams remained above .500 by finishing the season at 9-7. That is despite restocking four of five offensive line starters. And it’s in spite of restocking three of four starting defensive back in midseason as well. A 31st-ranked offensive line, and a 26th-ranked running game, and still ended up as 9-7.
Casual fans don’t dive into the details It’s a difficult place to be from a treetop oversight perspective. A roster that was battered with injuries in 2019 is now healthy. Shouldn’t that play a factor in the 2020 projections? You would think. But that is now how it works in the NFL when you are selling controversial opinions.
‘I have the Rams winning just five or six games’
At the 43:30 mark, Mark Harmon and Matt Verderame start discussing the LA Rams chances of returning to the NFL playoffs in their Stacking the Box Podcast. Not surprisingly, they reiterate the same repeated narrative that the Rams are on the downslope while the NFC West is one the rise. In fact, both state plainly that, in their view, the Rams are the worst team in the NFC West. Mark Harmon goes one step further, claiming that the Rams will win no more than just 5-6 games.
That’s a cute take. Not accurate. Not really grounded in logic. If anyone is following the Rams, and the NFC West teams, you know that the injury bug is beating the San Francisco 49ers already. You can see that the Seattle Seahawks have a lot of question marks about their offensive line. The Arizona Cardinals may be better on offense, but their defense is full of question marks. Finally, the LA Rams are healthy, had a great draft, and should be better than their 9-7 season from 2019.
Projections can come in all over the place this season. That’s pretty understandable given the unique circumstances that NFL teams and players have endured just to get to this point. But the Rams are a far better team than most give them credit for. This is just one more example of a narrative that the Rams are spiraling downward, while the details behind the Rams disappointing 9-7 season are completely different this year.
The wave of sentiment about the Rams fielding a bad team in 2020 may be correct. But I believe the more likely outcome is a Rams team competing for the NFC West Championship this year.