The LA Rams have a certain quality, a seeing-is-believing characteristic, that makes the 2023 NFL season seem a bit surreal. What do I mean? Let me explain.
Prestidigitation is another word for magic. It's a big word, yes, but it tries to capture the key ingredient to a magic show in descriptive terms. In essence, you follow the magician's hands and focus on where or what that magician wants you to see, all the while the real 'magic,' is happening elsewhere. Is that what is going on with the LA Rams in 2023?
Right now, the Rams have a bit of prestidigitation to them. A magical quality that seems to attract the focus of fans to the offense, and ignore what is going on with the defense. After all, who can blame anyone for that? Even with the Rams' offense losing WR Allen Robinson and LG David Edwards, the group is mostly intact from the starting group of players who lined up a year ago.
Conversely, the Rams defense is a big unknown. Yes, there are returning players. But for the most part, the LA Rams return Aaron Donald to the defensive line, Ernest Jones to the inside linebacker, and the rest are players who are either going to be promoted into far more significant roles than a year ago, or are brand new to the team altogether.
Will the 2023 Rams defense surprise us all?
So as we focus on QB Matthew Stafford and WR Cooper Kupp because they are two players who we know to be in the spotlight, are we missing the magic? Is this Rams defense, as new and foreign as it may appear to be, better than we expect? Can the Rams' defense end the 2023 season ranked higher than the offense?
It could. And here's how.
The LA Rams start the 2023 NFL schedule facing three NFL Playoff teams in the month of September 2023: At the Seattle Seahawks, hosting the San Francisco 49ers, and at the Cincinnati Bengals.
We know next to nothing about how good the Rams young defense will be in 2023, because we are unfamiliar with the players and how they will perform. All we know is that the 2022 version of the LA Rams defense allowed, on average, 341.1 yards per game, good enough to come in as the 19th ranked defense. Points wise, the Rams allowed an average of 22.6 points per game, good enough to be ranked as the 21st defense in the NFL.
Here's how the Rams magic could work
On offense, the Rams gained just 280.5 yards per game, which was dead last, 32nd out of 32 NFL teams. Points wise, the LA Rams offense scored 18.1 points per game, which tied for the 26th ranked scoring offense in the NFL. So here is my point.
The LA Rams could improve on offense, to say, the 24th ranked offense in terms of yards gained, and score an average that ranks them on or about the 24th ranked scoring offense. And the Rams defense could regress slightly on points allowed to finish as the 22nd or 23rd ranked defense, and the Rams defense could still end the season ranked higher than the offense.
At the end of the season, we are all tickled that the Rams offense elevated its game, and sigh a bit in frustration over a defense that got worse, but if we step back and take a big picture view of the team, it could very well be that the Rams defense is the better performing unit.
What do you think? Which group will end this season ranked higher? Offense or defense?