Predicting the Rams’ Remaining Games in 2020

by Hunter Sanders
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Going into the second half of the season, the Los Angeles Rams sit at 5-3 and currently hold the 7th seed in the NFC playoff race. The schedule for LA is tough to close out the year, and they’re going to need to cut down on self-inflicted wounds in order to qualify for the postseason. Before we get into predictions for the remainder of the season, let’s take a quick look back at my preseason picks, found here.

Week 1: Rams over Cowboys (right)
Week 2: Eagles over Rams (wrong)
Week 3: Rams over Bills (wrong)
Week 4: Rams over Giants (right)
Week 5: Rams over Washington (right)
Week 6: 49ers over Rams (right)
Week 7: Rams over Bears (right)
Week 8: Rams over Dolphins: (wrong)

In short, I’m about as good at picking Rams games as the team is at actually winning those games. I predicted this team to be 6-2 at the midway mark, which is just a game off their current record. Can they overcome their glaring issues and make a playoff push? Let’s break down the rest of the schedule.

Week 10: vs Seattle Seahawks
Key Matchup: CB Jalen Ramsey vs WR DK Metcalf
Prediction: When these two divisional rivals clash, you know it’s going to be a fun one. Since Sean McVay was hired as Rams HC, LA is 4-2 against their rivals with both losses coming on the last play of the game. The Rams are slight favorites, and both teams are coming off a loss. Wilson is arguably the league’s MVP, and he doesn’t lose back-to-back games often. However, neither do the Rams. I think Brandon Staley’s defense gets to Wilson, and Goff exploits the league’s worst secondary en route to a season-defining victory. Rams 34, Seahawks 28
Record after Week 12: 6-3

Week 11: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Key Matchup: QB Tom Brady vs DC Brandon Staley
Prediction: While the Bucs have looked inconsistent this year, they have shown they are a force to be reckoned with. While the Rams defense is talented, they haven’t faced an offense with this many weapons, especially with the recent signing of Antonio Brown. While a win would be monumental for the playoff race, I just don’t see LA winning this road game considering the matchups and LA’s poor road record this year (2-3). Bucs 23, Rams 20
Record after Week 13: 6-4

Week 12: vs San Francisco 49ers
Key Matchup: ILB Fred Warner vs Rams RBs
Prediction: Despite losing Todd Gurley, LA has surprisingly been one of the top rushing offenses in the league, thanks to the 3-headed monster of Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown, and Cam Akers. LA ranks 7th in the league in rushing yards per game. The 49ers, while injured at many key positions, still pose a threat to this Rams team (as evidenced by their 24-16 win in Week 6). The defense, led by Fred Warner gave them problems in their last meeting. The Rams will need to nullify his presence in this one, but with so many injuries for the visitors it shouldn’t be too difficult to squeak out a win. Rams 27, 49ers 16
Record after Week 12: 7-4

Week 13: @ Arizona Cardinals
Key Matchup: S Budda Baker vs TE Tyler Higbee
Prediction: Sean McVay may be 6-0 against the Cardinals, but this Arizona team is much improved from last year. Led by MVP candidate and former Heisman winner Kyler Murray, their offense is humming on all cylinders. The defense has holes, and it’s been an issue in a few of their games this year. Still, at home I believe the Cards hand McVay his first loss against the franchise. Cardinals 24, Rams 23
Record after Week 13: 7-5

Week 14: vs New England Patriots
Key Matchup: Patriots OL vs Rams DL
Prediction: The 2020 Patriots are nothing like the Patriots we’ve grown accustomed to. Sporting a losing record through 8 games is almost unthinkable with Bill Belicheck leading the charge, but it’s the reality they face. With no reliable pass catchers, Cam Newton and the run game have had to do it all for the offense. Their defense is a far cry from the league’s best in 2019, having lost many key starters through free agency. While that Super Bowl is still on some people’s minds, it doesn’t matter now. This team is a shell of the one we saw in 2019. Rams 24, Pats 14
Record after Week 14: 8-5

Week 15: vs New York Jets
Key Matchup: DL Quinnen Williams vs Rams IOL
Prediction: There’s not much worth saying here. It would waste both my time and yours. The Jets are very bad. The Rams are not. Rams 38, Jets 9
Record after Week 15: 9-5

Week 16: @ Seattle Seahawks
Key Matchup: DL Aaron Donald vs LT Duane Brown & LG Mike Iupati
Prediction: It’s tough to beat a team twice in the same season. It’s especially tough to do it when said team has one of the most efficient QBs in NFL history and is the leading MVP candidate. However, I think McVay and the Rams make a statement and extend their win streak, solidifying a playoff spot. Again, The Rams could easily be 6-0 against the Seahawks since 2017 if not for a dropped TD pass and a missed field goal. Without fans, Seattle won’t have their normal home field advantage. The Rams have won 2 of their last 3 games in Seattle. Rams 30, Seahawks 28
Record after Week 16: 10-5

Week 17: vs Arizona Cardinals
Key Matchup: WR Deandre Hopkins vs CB Jalen Ramsey
Prediction: In what could very well be the de-facto NFC West title game, I expect nothing less than a thrilling showdown. Hopkins and Ramsey are both top 5 at their respective positions, and should give the fans an entertaining battle on the outside. I doubt the Rams get swept by the Cardinals, considering they’ve won 6 straight against them. LA is a more balanced team, especially on defense, and will win their 5th straight. Rams 27, Cardinals 20
Record after Week 17: 11-5

Rams MVP: Aaron Donald
My preseason pick was Donald, and nothing’s changed here. Donald is still leading the league in pretty much any relevant DL statistic, and he’s making it seem almost boring at this point. He is on pace to become the greatest defensive lineman of all time, and I don’t really think that’s a hot take. He’s that good. If this team makes a deep playoff run, it’ll likely be because of 99.

Rams OPOY: LT Andrew Whitwoth
My preseason pick was Jared Goff, and part of me wants to stick with it. However, I’m going to go a little controversial here. Whitworth is really taking it to Father Time. The 38-year veteran is defying logic right now. He’s rated as the #1 LT in all of football right now per PFF, and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. After a down year in 2019, many thought Whitworth was done. However, he’s shown he still has some left in the tank. He’s been a huge reason why the Rams OL ranks well in both pass protection and run blocking.

Rams DPOY: CB Jalen Ramsey
Again, this was my preseason pick and I’m sticking with it. Ramsey may not have the stats people look for in a CB, but his lack of statistical prowess is arguably a strength. When opposing QBs rarely throw to you, it’s hard to rack up stats. It’s no coincidence that QBs simply aren’t throwing to Ramsey’s side this year.

Rams ROY: S Nick Fuller
I originally slated Terrell Lewis in this spot. While he could have a strong second half and prove me wrong, Fuller has been phenomenal when healthy, and has proven to be a steal in the 6th round. He is currently PFF’s 2nd highest graded rookie defender, just behind Bucs S Antoine Winfield, Jr. Fuller has stepped up for this defense, and getting him back for the 2nd half of the season is huge.

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