Welcome to “This Is Totally Your Year,” our overly optimistic preview of the 2014-15 NFL season for all 32 teams. We’ve broken down why every team — yes, even your team (and yes, even your team, Rams fans) — will win it all this year. We’ll also give some reasons for pessimism and even estimate an actual season prediction. Next up: The St. Louis Rams.
Don’t do it, Rams fan! Contrary to recent reports, you still have a lot to live for.
Perhaps even the playoffs.
Sure things don’t look good right now. You’ve lost your starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, for the season (ACL tear). The main thing being written about your team is the showering habits of a rookie defensive lineman who is likely to be cut when teams go to their 53-man rosters. And when talk surrounds the imminent prospect of returning an NFL franchise to Los Angeles, yours is always the first franchise to pop up in the conversation.
Not to mention the night terrors brought on by playing in perhaps the toughest division in all of football. The NFC West is populated by mammoths, white walkers, snarks, grumpkins, 49ers, Seahawks and possibly the best Cardinals team since they’ve been in Arizona. So why should the Rams be optimistic? Here are some solid reasons:
The defensive line. Rookie Michael Sam is having a great preseason, even exceeding expectations. So why is he in danger of being relegated to the team’s taxi squad? Because the Rams are so deep on the D-line that they don’t have room for him. In addition to the usual suspects — DEs Robert Quinn, and Chris Long and DTs Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford — who many consider the best starting front four the the NFL, the Rams have the best interior pass rusher in the draft (Aaron Donald). Then there’s a rookie who came out of nowhere to earn the best defensive line rating in the preseason (Aaron Westbrooks), plus the talented Eugene Sims and Williams Hayes, and you’ve got big trouble for the rest of the division. If games are won with defense, and defense starts on the line, then why not the playoffs?
Wide receiver. Remember Kenny Britt? The ultra-talented former Titan is now with the Rams, and looks healthy after three seasons of knee problems. He had a pair of impressive downfield catches against the Browns last week, and he’s only 25. Brian Quick has also looked great this offseason, so, if someone can get them the ball, this offense could go.
Coaching. Jeff Fisher is one of the best, and this is often overlooked. How did the Rams, obviously overmatched, go 1-0-1 against the 49ers two seasons ago? It was all coaching. Fisher absolutely gets the best out of anything he has to work with.
Greg the Leg Zeurlein.
Greg the leg just kicked a 63 yard FG a foot wide left, and it had the distance to make 67
— Eric Kallbrier (@Tricerictops) August 29, 2014
One year ago, Greg The Leg drilled a 60-yard field goal into a basketball hoop. We’re still in shock. WATCH: https://t.co/Jzy97rhp7Q
— St. Louis Rams (@STLouisRams) July 9, 2014
Concerns? We have a few. The Rams picked offensive lineman Greg Robinson with the No. 2 selection overall, but heading into Week 4 of the preseason he’s still behind relatively unknown guards Rodger Saffold and Davin Joseph on the depth chart. And can quarterback Shaun Hill take up the slack to replace Bradford? It’s a tall task.
But almost exactly 15 years ago, another talented starter went down with a season-ending knee injury, and an unheralded backup took over to lead the Rams t a Super Bowl title. That would be Trent Green and Kurt Warner, respectively. We’re just sayin’ that all is not always how it seems in the NFL, and as long as you have some pieces to work with — and the Rams do — the playoffs are possible. And if you’re healthy and playing well at playoff time, anything can happen. Just ask the 2012 New York Giants, or the 1982 49ers.
Season prediction: 10-6. Playoffs! The NFC West is chaos, as the Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals batter and feed on each other while the Billygoats sneak in and grab the wild card, and then get hot and go to the Super Bowl. You heard it here first, drama lovers.