The Los Angeles Rams are in the midst of their bye week for the 2019 season, and things are starting to take shape in the NFC West. The undefeated San Francisco 49ers are picking up steam heading into a rough patch in their schedule, the Seattle Seahawks just picked up Josh Gordon (eh) and are 6-2 heading into week 9, and the Arizona Cardinals are better than everyone expected. This is the best division in football. If we are going to be making an outlook for the Rams for the second half of the season we are going to have to start here.
First up, it’s the Rams’ remaining schedule. After the bye the Rams have the Steelers who are coming off of their win against the winless Miami Dolphins; color me shocked but I love the Rams’ chances. The Steelers are struggling and are looking toward the end of the regular season. Mason Rudolph has underperformed at quarterback, the receiving core isn’t what it once was, and the defense that was once formidable is now not so scary. I see the Rams winning while struggling with James Conner (if he plays) and his explosive style of play: 32-17.
Week 10 needs to be a statement game for the Los Angeles Rams and Sean McVay, and it could be the game to put the Chicago Bears’ season away. The biggest takeaway from last years’ Bears game was the Rams offense was shut down and bewildered by that stout Bears defense. With Vic Fangio gone, that isn’t the story for the Bears this season. The main headline for the Bears in 2019 is Mitch Trubisky and what has happened to him this year. His once-believers have turned into doubters like the rest of us, and they are finally seeing the truth: he doesn’t have the tools. For that reason alone I have the Rams winning AT HOME by a score of 24-13.
The Rams’ week 10 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens might not have inter-conference playoff implications, but it might be the biggest test the Rams have faced yet. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense has been electric because it is so hard to contain an ultra-fast quarterback such as Lamar; the Rams are going to need to bend but not break to the highest degree on defense. This Ravens team is a threat on the defensive end too, so in a tad under a month from now, can the Rams continue their defensive dominance? I say maybe, and the Rams lose by a hair to the Ravens 28-25.
Next up is the Arizona Cardinals, who the Rams play twice in the second half of the season. Both games are critical for division prominence and conference seeding, and I have the Rams winning both times. The Cardinals are almost there, they have their quarterback and they have some weapons but they need time and some more defensive playmakers: they don’t match up well with LA. I have the Rams winning by two scores both times the cards face the Rams in December.
Season Ender or Extender
The season-defining game for the Los Angeles Rams this year is their matchup against the Seahawks. This team has been THE divisional opponent for the Rams in their title window and this season is no different: the Seahawks are good. The Rams vs. Seahawks game in the early portion of the season could have gone either way and if Greg Zuerlein makes a potentially game-ending field goal, the Rams would have the tiebreaker. That is not how things went. The Rams now trail the Seahawks in the standings, and with their final game against Seattle looming in the background coming out of the bye, the Rams need to get rolling before then.
The Dallas Cowboys are a weird team. The Rams are a weird team as well. Their matchup on December 15th is going to be pivotal for the NFC playoff standings. As it stands now, the Rams will be battling Dallas and Seattle for their wildcard playoff spot, so this game following the Seahawks matchup can literally define the season. One of the best offensive lines in the game vs. the best player on Earth, Jared Goff vs. Dak Prescott, and Jalen Ramsey vs. Amari Cooper; this game has too many potentially great matchups to be a letdown game. It will live up to the hype it will get, and I have the Rams winning 31-21 with Ramsey having two picks.
Undefeated No More
Next up on tap after the Dallas game is another stunner of a game. Rams at 49ers. Will the 49ers be undefeated when they play the Rams in week 16? No. Will they still be leading the division when this game comes around? Yes. At this point in the year, the Niners could be resting players for this matchup, or they could still be fighting for top-seeding. That is why predicting this game is so so tough. Predicting half a season away is almost always going to be a tricky situation, but for a divisional opponent, I say the Rams go 7-1 to finish the season and beat the 49ers by one: 21-20. Anything can change through the next two months but I will stick with this prediction, Rams by one.
With all of this in the books (wins against Cardinals, Seahawks, Cowboys, Steelers, Bears, and 49ers, and a loss against the Ravens), the Rams will sit at 12-4 and will make the playoffs in the NFC. That might be a wildcard with how good the NFC is playing this year, and if the 49ers and Seahawks don’t slow down, the Rams will most definitely be a WC team. All we can do is be nervous before every kickoff and pray for the best, goodbye bye week and hello Pittsburgh.
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