Los Angeles Rams fans enjoyed an incredible winning season. The 2018 NFL season ushered in huge wins, superstar players on offense and defense, and plenty of trickery from the special teams unit. Seriously, thank you Johnny Hekker for those successful four down conversion trick plays, which brought such excitement to the game.
Unfortunately, the Rams also suffered three painful game losses due to some dismal personal performances and fundamental errors. The Rams trailed the No. 1 playoff seed New Orleans Saints for most of the Nov. 4 matchup, but they came back to tie the game at 35-35. A coverage mistake eventually cost Los Angeles in the 45-35 loss, but the Rams proved they can hang with the league’s best.
The New Orleans game was a hard one to watch, especially in that third quarter when the Rams were down 35-14, but they silenced the home fans when they tied the score in the fourth quarter. You could feel the fear in the Superdome when the Rams came charging up the field, making fans nervous of a possible comeback victory. Sadly, that’s not what happened.
An outsider looking into the Rams’ 13-3 regular season record would never understand the team’s late season struggles. They peaked with the Rams’ historic 54-51 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on November 19. Los Angeles struggled in a 30-16 victory over the Detroit Lions two weeks later. Then came the devastating losses to the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bears defense overpowered the Rams’ offensive line, and Eagles quarterback Nick Foles seemed to magically marshal a win under great pressure.
A Look Toward the Playoffs
The Eagles beat the Bears 16-15 in their NFC Wild Card game thanks to a “double doink” partially blocked missed field goal Chicago’s Cody Parkey. The field goal would have sealed a Bears victory. Now, Philadelphia faces New Orleans in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Rams need to get past the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional on Saturday, January 12. Los Angeles has their hands full with quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott.
The Cowboys are coming off their NFC Wild Card win against the Seattle Seahawks. Dallas displayed the same grit they have shown throughout their playoff run to beat the Seahawks. The Rams will have their hands full.
McVay’s Rams recovered from their late-season swoon with dominating wins against the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49rs. The victories over their division rivals were much needed confidence boosters after losing those crucial games. Wins against the Bears and the Eagles during the regular season would have set the playoff tone in favor of the Rams. Now they have a tougher hill to climb.
The Rams must fix their holes on both offense and defense. Pass protection will be key for the Rams. Can they give Goff enough protection to spread the ball around accurately.
Defensively, the Rams must hit their gaps and maintain the edge. Getting pressure on Prescott will be key as well. The pass rush must be more than Aaron Donald. Fundamentals have been a problem for the Rams at times this season. They must be on their game Saturday, or the Cowboys will pull off the upset.
The Rams do have some advantages. Running back C.J. Anderson performed well in relief of the injured Todd Gurley. Along with John Kelly on the roster, I am extremely confident in our running back personnel. The Rams would be wise to focus on the running game and keep their defense fresh.
Also, let’s not forget about our 1,000-yard receiving duo, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks. Could we have more weapons? Yes, we all miss Cooper Kupp, but we still have a loaded offense. The Rams have more playmakers. It’s just a matter of giving Goff enough time to get the ball to those playmakers.
A New Year’s Wish
I want the Los Angeles Rams to be what they were called to be this season and into the playoffs: “The Greatest Show on Surf” and Super Bowl Champions, but there is still a ways to before that happens.
For now, the Rams can only take one step at a time and concentrate on their first playoff game. I just pray that everyone stays healthy. Most importantly, remember that these teams are beatable. The Rams share the best record in the NFL with the Saints. They exhibited toughness and resilience even in their losses.
After that crazy Los Angeles Chargers AFC Wild Card win against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday, I could not want Los Angeles’ real team, the Rams, to win more. Rams fans wish them a victorious playoff run and a ticket to the big dance.
Who knows? Maybe it will be an all Los Angeles Super Bowl, but before we get ahead of ourselves, remember, just one step at a time. In the end, all I want in this new year is the Rams in the Super Bowl. It means more than I could ever say.