Four weeks in and the Los Angeles Rams are 4-0. They’re at the top of everybody’s list of Super Bowl contenders with some very convincing wins and their offensive and defensive lines both look great. Can anybody actually stop them?
The Rams had a big offseason – possibly the biggest in the league – scoring players like Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters at cornerback, wide receiver Brandin Cooks, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Not to mention, resigning Todd Gurley, one of the best running backs in the NFL, with a major contract extension. Rest assured, that kind of talent didn’t come cheap. They’re spending the second highest amount of money of any team. And well, it looks like it’s paying off…
They’ve also got sleeper players like Sam Shields – who has been away from the NFL for two years – ready to step in to fill roles when injuries inevitably happen. He had five tackles, one interception, and two defended passes against the Chargers, stopping a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Word is that Head Coach Sean McVay has full confidence in his abilities. This is big time for a guy who wasn’t a sure thing to make the team during training camp.
And their O-line is filled with lesser-known players like John Sullivan, Andrew Whitworth, Rodger Saffold III, Austin Blythe, and Rob Havenstein who form the powerful foundation of the Rams success. Rams receivers credit the offensive players’ communication skills and intelligence for their perfect 4-0 start. Their hits, pressure, and perfect understanding of the quarterback’s plays – it all contributes. Receiver Connor Cup said, “Those guys up front are pivotal. I can’t imagine there being a line that does so much mentally in terms of understanding our run game, understanding our pass game, being able to make checks and calls and helping Jared with that.”
But man, it’s quarterback Jared Goff who just keeps getting better and better. Goff had one of his best games ever against the Chargers in Week 3, but it’s clear he’s not stopping there. He’s more aggressive than last season, taking chances and trying to fit the ball in tight spaces. He’s clearly more confident and comfortable when it comes to anticipating windows. He’s more familiar with the system and the schemes of the Rams. (Just don’t call him a product of the system, okay?) And it doesn’t hurt that Goff practices against some of the best defensive guys in the NFL.
Nobody is better at scoring on third down than the Rams offense. They’re surgical about it. Against the Chargers, their O-line converted 8 of 11 third downs and 3 out of 4 red-zone appearances. Yeah, they got a total of 33 first downs in that game. And it doesn’t hurt that the defense is scoring as well.
The Rams took the top spot in USA Today’s NFL power rankings after Week 3. And, hey, with that second Patriots loss, the Rams have topped the charts when it comes to their odds to win Super Bowl 53. After their victory against the Chargers, their odds are 4 to 1 according to some sources. To many oddsmakers, they simply look like the best and most complete team in the NFL.
|Los Angeles Rams||+400|
|New England Patriots||+800|
|Kansas City Chiefs||+900|
|New Orleans Saints||+1400|
|Green Bay Packers||+1800|
That Thursday Night Game Though
Running back Todd Gurley was pretty anti when it came to playing a Thursday night game – calling it “the dumbest thing ever” – possibly because of the physical game the Rams played on Sunday followed by such a quick turnaround or maybe because lots of fans and players just hate Thursday night football. But that didn’t seem to affect the team’s performance at all…
A tough test against the Vikings in Week 4 showed us what the Rams were really made of. In what was possibly the very best game of 2018 so far (wait, on a Thursday?!), we saw high scores, tough offenses, and records set in this matchup between two big Super Bowl contenders.
Goff had four first-half touchdowns, making it perhaps the best half of his life thus far. But he didn’t stop there. The Rams quarterback ended the game with a personal record of 465 yards and 5 touchdowns. One of his best moments of the night included a 70-yard pass to receiver Cooper Kupp, the longest reception of Kupp’s career. Goff ended the game with 26 of 33 attempts, no interceptions, and a perfect passer rating (158.3). Goff is only the third QB with a perfect passer rating after more than 30 attempts, joining the ranks of Kurt Warner.
Receiver Robert Woods bragged, “The dude is a straight baller being that accurate delivering the ball. Just standing tall in the pocket, making the right decisions and leading this team.”
Goff, still on his rookie contract, is making less than $3 million this season. But then again, that’s allowed the team to spend more money on all those guys they recruited in the offseason like Marcus Peters et al.
Prior to Week 4, Head Coach Sean McVay let reporters know he was seeking to avenge his humbling 2017 loss to the Vikings in this Thursday night game. He even wrote a letter to employers across LA to request that they let fans out early to prep for the evening. And this game did not disappoint fans. McVay himself was noticeably pumped with the impressive of talent of his team, running out to chest bump Goff in celebration after that 70-yard touchdown. The youngest NFL coach in modern times and former Redskins offensive coordinator had a great night (and not just because everybody learned what a babe his girlfriend was when her pics went viral).
The Rams were nearly perfect against the Vikings. (Hey, they missed a field goal. You can’t have it all.)
So that makes 140 points in 4 games. And you can bet it would be more… if they actually needed the points. But of course, we’ll just have to keep watching to see if anyone can challenge them.