Can We Expect Big Things from the Los Angeles Rams This Season?

Photo by Dhia Eddine:

The NFL’s 104th season starts on September 7 with defending Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Detroit Lions at Arrowhead Stadium.  Two days later the Los Angeles Rams travel 1,110 miles north to start their campaign against the Seattle Seahawks.

Last season was one to forget for Rams fans as they finished the season in third place in the NFC West with a record of 5-12. According to the bookmakers Sean McVay’s men are in for another season of strife with Super Bowl odds of +6,600 reflecting that.

Despite this there are plenty of fans and pundits who are quietly confident ahead of the 2023 season so who’s right? Them or the NFL lines? Read on to find out.

(It’s crazy to think that this happened less than two years ago…)

The Current State of Play

It’s easy to forget that little over 18 months ago the Los Angeles Rams lifted the Vince Lombardi trophy after beating the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in Super Bowl LVI. Whilst we weren’t expecting the team to go on and repeat that success in 2023, no-one could have predicted the drop-off that the Rams endured last season.

A Week 13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks confirmed the Rams first losing season since 2016 and their first under Sean McVay but the bad times didn’t stop there. The Rams became the first defending Super Bowl champions to lose more than 10 games since the 1999 Denver Broncos with a disheartening loss to crosstown rivals the Chargers in Week 17.

By the time the regular season drew to a close, the Rams .294 percentage was the worst ever on record by a defending NFL or AFL champion. Injuries to notable key players combined with dips in form and an inconsistency in tactical approaches were all cited as possible reasons for the Rams marked decline in the 2023 season.

With all of that in mind, Rams fans could be forgiven for going into the upcoming season with more than their fair share of pessimism, but, as Yazz and the Plastic Population sang in 1988, The Only Way is Up

(Feeling down about the Rams? Let this disco, soul, funk classic from the 1980s cheer you up.)

Reasons for Optimism

To continue the British pop theme of yesteryear, let’s take a look at the Reasons to Be Cheeful, Part 3

Return of the Kupp: The Rams injury woes were compounded last season when receiver Cooper Kupp went down with a high ankle sprain and missed the final eight games of the season. In the first eight weeks of the season, Kupp was averaging 101.6 receiving yards per game. After his injury no-one averaged more than 50. If reports are to be believed, Kupp is back to fighting fitness and ready for the new season which should put the Rams in a much better position to compete this time round.

Matthew Stafford’s Point to Prove: According to Pro Football Focus Matthew Stafford is only the 12th best quarterback in the league, but to anyone else with eyes it’s clear that Stafford is far better than that. Like Kupp, Stafford spent a large portion of last season in the treatment room. Invoking his inner Chumbawamba though, Stafford is keen to show that nothing or no one is ever gonna keep him down. Stafford has something to prove this season and throughout his career he has shown himself more than capable of coming up big for his team when his back is up against the wall.

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(Matthew Stafford gets knocked down but he always gets back up again.)

Cobie Durant’s Breakout: Swing out Sister it’s time to breakout. That’s the sentiment behind Cobie Durant anyway as he looks to build on his personal performances from last season and show everyone why he is more than capable of stepping into the cleats of Jalen Ramsey. Whilst it was hard for anyone to shine last season, Durant did show glimmers of promise even in the toughest times and could be pivotal to the Rams this time round.

In Summary

The Rams are odds on favourites to be the most improved team this season, but is that really an achievement to be proud of? Things could hardly have gone worse for Sean McVay’s team last season so we shouldn’t expect anything other than an improvement when it comes to entertainment.

The range and scope of that improvement will be the interesting thing, can the Rams post a winning season? Will they make the playoffs? Could they roll back the years and match the feats of the 2022 team? Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves and take things Little by Little, the sky may well be the limit but right now, we’d settle for a winning season.