Welcome to the 22nd edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race in the Perspective of Chase’, an almost daily article on your favorite NFL team. We have been talking about many different contenders. But of course the main contender is the team that was the true contender and the Super Bowl winner last season, the Los Angeles Rams. And there is no reason why the Rams wouldn’t be the favorites to repeat as champions. They basically have the same roster if not a better one with the linebacker switch (which we will get into) and the fact that they still have the triple crown winner and a developing run game. Can they repeat as Super Bowl champs? Lets, get into this!
Real quick before we do I would like to let you know that we are doing something very similar to this on the Cool Sports Newsletter for the NBA if you want to check that out. We are also ranking different NFL positions on there and so far we have ranked the top ten wide receivers in the NFL and the top ten running backs in the NFL if you want to check that out (but you have to subscribe to the newsletter to get these articles).
The Los Angeles Rams were the most controversial NFC champions in NFL history, with that controversial no-call pass interference in the NFC championship. But a dominating Rams defense, led by Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, Cory Littleton, John Johnson III and Marcus Peters stormed into the Super Bowl to play the overwhelmingly dominant New England Patriots. In what is considered to be the most boring and low scoring Super Bowl in NFL history, Tom Brady and the Pats captured Super Bowl #6, as the Rams went home without a touchdown in the Super Bowl. In 2019, now without Suh, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley fell off of a big cliff and the defense wasn’t the same. Cory Littleton was way off from his All Pro 2nd team play and they ended up trading Marcus Peters to Baltimore at the deadline. But also at the deadline, they replaced Peters with a superstar cornerback in Jalen Ramsey! But they didn’t progress at all after the deadline, and they just finished with a 9-7 record. In 2020, Littleton and Gurley were gone and instead rookie Cam Akers took over the running game. They finished 10-6, good enough for the 6th seed in the playoffs. A win in Seattle over their division rival sent them to Green Bay, but Aaron Rodgers is pretty good when he’s not in the NFC championship, so that sent LA home. But they needed a boost. An upgrade. And there was only one way to get that…
Trade Jared Goff! The former #1 overall pick had two good seasons in 2017 and 2018 and was leading one of the best offenses in the NFL. But after two above average seasons, he seemed to be the problem, the weakness. So they called up the Detroit Lions to trade Jared Goff, and a deal got done! The Rams sent Goff and a 2021 3rd round pick (eventually Ifeatu Melifonwu), 2022 1st round pick (which ended up being Lewis Cine, as Detroit was able to get the 12th pick where they selected Jamison Williams) and a 2023 1st round pick to Detroit in exchange for Matthew Stafford. I was never high on quarterbacks who put up good stats on losing teams. Stafford was one of those guys. I said that Los Angeles definitely lost the trade, and that the Stafford experiment wouldn’t work out. Boy was I wrong!
Going into the season, I thought the Rams would probably make the playoffs, but really do nothing more. The only thing I predicted about this team was that Cooper Kupp would break out. But not the way he did. They absolutely overachieved mine, and mosts expectations. They started off with a 7-1 record, traded a 2022 2nd round pick and a 2022 3rd round pick for Von Miller coming off of a season ending injury where he didn’t play a game in 2020. However, a 3 game losing streak had them looking at 7-4. However, a 5 game winning streak clinched Los Angeles the division but weren’t good enough to get the #1 seed, so they didn’t rest their starters, but definitely didn’t target Kupp and others on the offense as much as usual in Week 18 and lost by 3 to San Francisco, which allowed their division rival to sneak into the playoffs. Cooper Kupp had one of the best seasons in NFL history for a wide receiver. He won the triple crown with 16 touchdowns and had the 2nd most receiving yards in a season in NFL history!
The Rams completely obliterated a non-DeAndre Hopkins Arizona Cardinals, to then go down to Tampa and play the defending champs. The Rams were really shutting down Brady, and they took a 27-3 lead in the 3rd quarter. But in classic Brady fashion, he tied the game up with under one minute to go in the 4th quarter. But that is where Stafford took matters into his own hands, and threw a deep ball into field goal range to Kupp which was of course caught. Matt Gay kicked the game winning field to send the Rams to the NFC championship, against the San Francisco 49ers, who wouldn’t have made the playoffs if the Rams hadn’t basically looked ahead to the playoffs since they couldn’t get the #1 seed. The 49ers led 17-7, but some Stafford-Kupp magic gave the Rams the lead, and we all know Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t going to orchestrate a game winning drive for San Francisco. The Rams stormed into the Super Bowl to play the young, surprising Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals led 20-13, but a field goal and game winning drive connection from Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp, not to mention an Aaron Donald QB hit at the end, gave the Rams the Lombardi Trophy!
They still had some questions in the offseason. Von Miller’s contract was up. Was he going to resign? The Rams signed Odell Beckham Jr. after Robert Woods went out with a season ending injury and OBJ looked very good in Los Angeles? Were they going to resign Beckham and possibly trade Woods? They had so many question marks coming off of a Super Bowl season! Just a little over a month after their Super Bowl victory, Von Miller left for Buffalo. But just a few weeks after that, they replaced him by signing Bobby Wagner, which is somehow an upgrade from Von Miller. Everyone thinks he is out of his prime since it was the 1st season he didn’t make 1st team All Pro since 2015, but he had a career high in tackles with 170 tackles. Before they picked up Wagner, they signed Bears WR Allen Robinson. Robinson played significantly worse last season, but that was mainly due to injury. The two seasons prior he had put up over 1,100 receiving yards. He will probably not reach anywhere close to that mark this season because of all of the options they have on offense, kind of like the same role OBJ played in 2021.
Before the NFL draft, the Rams decided to say goodbye to Robert Woods and his significant increase in money this upcoming season. They literally didn’t care about what they got for him, as he was sent to Tennessee for a 2022 6th round pick. Now, they probably could have asked for more. But no matter what, this deal makes sense. The Rams won a Super Bowl without Woods, showing he is interchangeable. And the fact that his contract is going from $2 million to $10 million, while they got OBJ for about $1 million. In the draft, the Rams didn’t have their 1st round pick and didn’t have their 2nd round pick. So basically, their draft wasn’t anything notable. The Rams never decided to resign Odell Beckham Jr. at this current moment, making their wide receiver core Kupp, Robinson and Van Jefferson. The Rams had a lot of action in the offseason before the NFL draft, but basically nothing since.
The Rams will host the Buffalo Bills on what should be an amazing game to open the NFL season. They have all of the talent in the world to succeed. But will they repeat? First of all, Cooper Kupp will have an amazing season but will definitely not replicate that success again in 2022. I have them starting off 7-0, but four straight losses to Tampa Bay, Arizona, New Orleans and Kansas City will bring them back down to earth as just another contender compared to the clear cut best team in football. But a 5-1 finish to the season will give the Rams a 12-5 record, just losing out on the tiebreaker with Tampa Bay for the #1 seed in the NFC. As the #2 seed, they will dominate the Minnesota Vikings, and then beat Arizona again to go to Tampa Bay for the NFC championship. In an amazing game, Tampa Bay will win and send the Rams back home. They have all of the potential to go back-to-back, but I don’t see it happening for the Rams in 2022!
My prediction: The Rams finish 12-5, #2 seed in the NFC, pretty much cruise their way to the NFC championship but Tom Brady and the Bucs will get revenge and send LA home!
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