The utter throttling that the Seattle Seahawks received in Week 15 at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams definitely raised some eyebrows. Coming out of Seattle with a win at all is a tall task in the league. The Rams did that and then some.
Few people could have predicted such a thorough loss being dealt to the Seahawks, who saw themselves trailing by 34 points going into halftime. The numbers at every stage tell the story of a one-sided affair. Despite not throwing an interception, Seattle’s Russell Wilson compiled less than 150 passing yards with one touchdown. He was also dragged down for a sack seven times.
Penalties, turnovers, and time of possession favored Los Angeles. Running back Todd Gurley’s 152 rushing yards eclipsed Seattle’s total offensive yardage. They are second in the league in points per game, and they match that intensity on defense to rank sixth in takeaways per game.
Are the L.A. Rams just that good? Naysayers of Los Angeles’ success point out that only four of their 10 wins have come against teams currently above a .500 record. Among their other wins are the Houston Texans without Deshaun Watson, an Indianapolis Colts team currently sitting at 3-11, and now, a Seattle team that has been decimated by injuries to their defense.
The old cliché that teams simply play who they are scheduled to may ring true, but the Rams’ losses say a lot about the team’s hidden struggles. They have held their opponents’ quarterbacks to an average passer rating below 80. On the other hand, their four losses have come against quality quarterbacks in Kirk Cousins, Carson Wentz, Case Keenum, and Russell Wilson. Their blow-out wins come against less-than-stellar quarterback play. That demonstrates a susceptibility to strong quarterback play, which the Rams should expect to see more of come play-off time.
There is a definite feeling on the field that when the team hits their stride, there is not much that can stop the Rams on offense. Todd Gurley is have a career resurgence after a disappointing campaign last season. He has complemented the development of quarterback Jared Goff, whose sophomore season comes as a relief for the franchise that invested the first overall pick in 2016 on him.
Of course, the offensive turnaround that has come as a surprise to others around the league can be largely attributed to the influence of L.A.’s head coach, Sean McVay. The former offensive coordinator who is credited with the success of Kirk Cousins in Washington has brought that fresh offense-minded coaching style to the Southern California team. Even as the organization struggles to fill its stadium, the team seems to do the right things, week after week, to be in position to win.
When the opportunity presents itself, fans have seen that McVay and Co. are more than willing to keep their feet on the gas pedal. The Rams have won four games by 30 or more points, en route to being second in the league in average scoring margin.
So, yes, the Rams have arguably been dealing with very meager competition. The NFC West has softened from the formidable division it once was. However, the Rams are not coming away from these games having just skated by. They are not “surviving” games; they are dominating. After solidifying their first winning season since 2003, the Rams continue to put the league on notice. 7-9 was not good enough, and anything less than a Super Bowl will not be good enough.
Week 15 has been the statement win that the Los Angeles Rams and their fans were looking for. Are the Rams “that good?” They may not be Super Bowl favorites just yet, but with all the momentum on their side, nobody wants to be playing against them right now.
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