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The Year of the Ram?

The Los Angeles Rams return from a post London bye week on Sunday and perhaps in the coming weeks will be revealing the 2016 Number 1 pick to the world.

Case Keenum has been a good quarterback for the Rams on their return to Los Angeles this season but was always destined to find himself benched at some point in the season with Jared Goff waiting for his first start in the NFL. Not quite ready for the pro league due to a need to transfer his stills from a College to NFL ready offence, Goff is a few bad Rams results away from starting.

Already 6 rookie quarterbacks have started this season ahead of the number one pick and many of them have had success. Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott have revolutionised their Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys respectively. It really is the year of the rookie QB.

Assuming Goff starts for the Rams he will inherit a team playing some good football. Last season’s offensive rookie of the year Todd Gurley is yet to recapture his form but a week off may be exactly what he needed. The offence has also been revitalised by the emergence of Kenny Britt – a player who has always had the tools but maybe just lacking in commitment. There are a few issues on the offensive line, but let’s be frank, this just means they are in good company in the NFC West.

Last week Steve Wyche suggested on NFL.com: “Keenum absolutely is not the main reason that the Rams have fallen to 3-4. He is the most obviously replaceable part, though. If L.A. loses to Carolina in Week 9 to fall to 3-5, it will be time to make the switch.”

Given the way the results have gone in the NFL so far this season – 19 teams have won just 3 or 4 games – leaves the door ajar for the Rams where the division topping Seahawks are one of the teams on 4 wins. The way the results have seemed quite random and surprising this seasons, combined with a tough overall schedule for the NFC West means that this is still anyones game.

Could the perennial 7-9 Rams really end up with a home game in this seasons play offs as division winners? It isn’t out of the question.

The Seattle Seahawks offence is currently close to broken. Due to an injury, Russell Wilson is not the quarterback we are used to seeing in the past, confined to the pocket and held back by an offensive coordinator who seemingly refuses to alter the playbook based on Wilson’s issues, it has been a tough watch for fans of the team this season. In 3 games against opponents who hold a combined record of 9 and 12, the Seahawks have 1 solitary offensive touchdown (scoreless against the Rams and Cardinals, 1 TD vs the Saints was defensive).

Other Seahawks injuries include the Seahawks number 1 running back, left tackle, and Pro Bowl defensive stars Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor.

This week the already ailing Cardinals lost All Pro defensive back Tyrann Matthieu and left tackle Jared Valdeer to injuries that will keep them out for an extended period of time. Carson Palmer has not yet rediscovered his form from last season.

Strength of opposition and home/away advantage could be key to this division. The Cardinals have already had 5 of their 8 home games, and yet have a 3-4-1 record, with tough road games against Vikings, Falcons, Seahawks and Rams to come, given current form it may be tough to win any of these. Should they lose all 4 the maximum their record would read is 7-8-1.

For the Seahawks the next 3 games are huge, firstly at Bills who possesses the type of defensive line which has seen Wilson struggle so far this season. Following that is a trip to this year’s stand out New England Patriots and then home to the in-form Philadelphia Eagles. Lose all 3 of these and the Seahawks will be really up against it with a double header against the Packers and Panthers to come.

The Los Angeles Rams have tough fixtures too, being from the same division you have many of the same opponents. The wrinkle is such that the other teams in the division have already played the majority of their perceived ‘easier’ opponents. Even if they were to lose this weekend to the Carolina Panthers, they follow this up with winnable matches against the Jets, Dolphins and Saints.

It is this 3 week spell where you are likely to see Jared Goff, and as we have seen with the likes of Prescott and Wentz this season, absolutely anything can happen. The Rams have the weapons in Gurley, Donald and Quinn, they have the fixtures, their division is having a rough time of it, don’t sleep on the Rams just yet.

 

The Rams play the Carolina Panthers in Los Angeles this Sunday at 4.05ET.

Article written by:

Duncan covers the NFC West, as unbiased as possible for a Seahawks fan, promising “I just like good football”. He has been writing online for around four years for various publications enjoying Football, Cricket, Rugby League and anything else he can find on TV that weekend. Priding himself in being a realist when it comes to opinions on sport, you won’t catch him jumping on any pre-season bandwagons. Also a big fan of Fantasy sports, ask nicely and he will show you his 3 seasons in a row collection of winners medals. You can follow Duncan on Twitter at @DuncanJTerry.

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