The Los Angeles Rams are coming off a dominant Week 1 victory against their NFC West Division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, which has given the fans high hopes and expectations for the upcoming season. This win has triggered a wide range of differing opinions among Rams fans. Of course, that has been reflected in the sports reporting world, with new projections for this young Rams roster now scattered all over the board.
NFL Power Rankings are admittedly subjective and designed to trigger discussions, sometimes heated discussions, among rival NFL team fan bases. So it makes sense to survey the latest and greatest NFL Power Rankings and present them in a comparative format to let you judge which NFL media outlets are tracking the success of the LA Rams most accurately.
Week 2 Power Rankings have been released by NFL.com, ESPN.com, and CBSSports.com, and are displayed below. Here's what they have to say about your LA Rams:
Power Rankings Source
Week 2 Ranking
These same sources all have the San Francisco 49ers as their Top-Ranked NFL team heading into their Week 2 matchup with the Rams. As fans look at the Rams' upcoming schedule, they will see that three of the next four games will be a brutal stretch for a Rams team. And complicating that is the fact that we still do not know a whole lot about how good this team is this season.
To make things worse, history is not on the Rams' side in matchups against the rival 49ers. Looking back over their history since hiring Sean McVay as the LA Rams head coach, the Rams have only won two of their last 10 meetings. So what can the Rams do to come away with an upset this Sunday? Well, here are 5 things that the San Francisco 49ers and 49ers fans are certainly rooting against:
49ers hope LA Rams can't accomplish these 5 keys in Week 2
5. Protect Matthew Stafford
The first key to victory is for the offensive line to perform as well as they did in Week 1. That means that the Rams offensive line must ensure that starting Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is comfortable in the pocket. When Stafford has time to run through his progressions, he almost always finds an open receiver or is at least able to put the ball where only the receiver can grab it.
Additionally, it is no secret that the most dangerous part of the San Francisco 49ers' defense comes from their front seven so the Rams' best chance of victory comes from their success in the passing game. This will be a very demanding challenge for the new offensive line unit as the 49ers posted five quarterback sacks in their Week 1 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That outburst of quarterback pressure was good enough to tie them for the third-most quarterback sacks in the league.
4. Do not abandon the run
This seems to contradict what I just said about the Rams needing to bank on success through the air to win, right? Well, not quite. The LA Rams do not need to dominate on the ground to gain a victory next week, but they will almost certainly lose if they abandon the run this game. Even if the Rams average 2.0 yards per carry on the ground, they accomplish four major things by continuing to run the ball:
- First, it helps wear down the 49ers' amazing defensive front.
- Second, it gives Stafford and the offensive line a slight break from pass blocking, allowing the Rams' big-bodied bruisers on the offensive line a chance to knock the lighter 49ers defenders on their keister.
- Finally, and maybe most importantly, it keeps the 49ers defense on its toes against a balanced Rams offensive game plan.
- Running the football allows the Rams to dominate the game clock That Time of Possession statistic should not be overlooked for the young Rams defense.
If the Niners defense figures out that the Rams are just going to throw the ball, then all they are going to do is play to defend the pass. That has been their strategy in most of their victories. They push hard to get the lead, and then they sit back and allow the defense to in their ears back and shut the Rams passing attack.
Shutting down the pass is relatively easy to do if that is what the 49ers defense expects every time out the gate. To put things in perspective, the Rams beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Round on route to their Super Bowl LVI win by not abandoning the run. In that game, they averaged only 2.4 yards per carry, but the fact that they ran the ball 30 times ensured that Tampa Bay could not predict what type of play would be called next.
Just revisit Week 1. The LA Rams passed 38 times and rushed 40 times for 92 yards against the Seattle Seahawks, but they dominated the Time of Possess by a 2:1 margin.