2020 Los Angeles Rams Predictions and Season Win Total Picks
In the immortal words of Jerry Glanville, NFL stands for “Not For Long”. The Los Angeles Rams have learned that lesson the hard way.
Two years ago, the Rams were rolling through the NFC en route to the Super Bowl berth. With a stacked roster featuring a youthful, talented core and an ascendant young coach, the Rams looked poised to be a league powerhouse with a wide-open championship window.
Just two years later, the Rams Super Bowl window appears to be closed and they enter the 2020 season seemingly with more questions than answers. Only 10 of the 22 starters that suited up for Los Angeles in their Super Bowl loss in February 2019 are still on the roster. Outstanding defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has retired, the questions about Jared Goff are getting louder, and some of the bloom appears to be coming off Sean McVay’s rose.
Where does that leave the Rams now?
Los Angeles’ all-or-nothing approach at a championship may have backfired on them. They’ve had to pare down the roster to get rid of some bloated contracts and have lost a wealth of talent and experience in the process. The Rams are nowhere near “rebuilding mode”. But it is hard to look at their projected lineups and assume that this year’s squad will be better than last year’s 9-7 squad.
After finishing in the Top 10 in rushing in both 2017 (No. 8) and 2018 (No. 3), the Rams witnessed a massive regression in their running game last year. They finished just No. 26 in rushing, which led to the Rams releasing All-Pro back Todd Gurley.
The dip in rushing also put a ton of pressure on Goff, who threw the ball a league-high 626 times. Goff still completed 63 percent of his passes for over 4,600 yards. But his 16 interceptions and 10 fumbles were both issues for the attack.
Despite their issues, the Rams still finished No. 7 in total offense, No. 4 in passing and No. 11 in scoring. Goff still has plenty of weapons at his disposal, and Los Angeles should be one of the league’s most effective attacks again this year.
The bigger questions are on defense. New coordinator Brandon Staley is a first-time DC and has never called defensive plays before. Los Angeles looks like they will have nine new starters on this side of the ball this season, and are without veteran leaders like Cory Littleton, Eric Weddle and Aqib Talib.
The Rams got pushed around last season. They finished No. 19 in the league in rushing defense and were No. 29 in the NFL in red zone defense. They are overly dependent on Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers right now. And if anything happens to either of them, this defense could fall off a cliff.
The NFC West will be one of the best divisions in football this year, and there won’t be any gimme wins for the Rams among their rivals. However, Los Angeles gets to cross over against the two worst divisions in football this year, the AFC East and NFC East. The Rams also get two of the top teams in those two divisions, the Cowboys and Patriots, at home in Los Angeles.
Right now, the public consensus is that the Rams are a team in decline. I don’t disagree with that assessment, but I don’t know that Los Angeles is going to suffer as steep of a drop-off as some people are predicting. An easy schedule is the Rams’ ace in the hole. And it should make them a real threat to beat this number.
I wouldn’t touch this wager with a 10-foot-pole. But if I had to pick a side with this group, I suppose I would lean on the ‘under’.
Take Los Angeles Rams ‘Under’ 8.5 Wins.
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