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Are the Rams the Favorite to Win the NFC West?

I am not sure we should be speaking of a favorite in the NFC West, so let’s just get that out of the way. But let’s work in reverse.

San Francisco is a hot mess right now, and as much as I loved Mike Singletary as a player, he is not a good coach. They were severely outcoached last week in Kansas City, and then could not handle the good fortune of finding themselves up 14-0 on the road in Atlanta yesterday.

They’ve got talent, particularly in the front seven, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts.  They will jump up and win some games (regardless of the level of competition), but they will also crap down their legs and get outcoached if they play anything approaching a meaningful game.  They only get in the race if six wins is what it might take to win this division.

Arizona stinks.  They beat the Rams in a close game in week 1, and got lucky against Oakland, but they have been destroyed in two road games.  You want to know how many teams have started 2-2 with a -50 or worse point differential through 4 games (Arizona is at -60)? None since 1970. Arizona is the worst 2-2 team since the merger. The previous worst 2-2 team was the 2003 Texans, who were -44 after four games, and they finished at 5-11. Unless Arizona is going to get lucky and win every close game it manages to be involved in, it’s not going to happen.

Which leaves the two teams that faced off on Sunday, and will meet again in the season finale. The Rams completely shut down Seattle yesterday. Without safety A.J. Otogwe, they still managed to hold the Seahawks to 5.3 yards per pass and sacked Hasselbeck four times. The Rams are getting better defensive play from some unlikely sources. James Hall is the definition of a journeyman, but at age 33, he has added four sacks in the last three games. At the other end of the age spectrum, James Laurinitis looks like a legitimate starter on the inside at linebacker.

Seattle has been a different team on the road, failing to show up at both Denver and St. Louis. Any Rams enthusiasm should be tempered because they have played three of the first four at home, and have been outgained in yards on the season.  For a young team, though, the last two weeks show promise.  The victory over the Seahawks was a pretty convincing win.  The Rams have a young offensive line that is developing, several unknown pieces in the receiving group, and a young quarterback who may be the best quarterback in the division – not in the future, but now. Next up is Detroit, and that is a game that will show us whether the Rams are just flashing promise for the future, or are a threat to go from 1-15 to the playoffs this year. With upcoming games against the likes of San Diego, Atlanta, New Orleans, Kansas City and all three divisional road games still to come, it’s the type of game they need to win.

[Sam Bradford via Getty]

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