The St. Louis Rams have three games left before the hellish ride that has become the 2009 season ends and the merciful reprieve of the offseason - the last vestige of parity in the NFL - begins. Before you start sharpening the guillotine for more offseason February house cleaning, here are the top storylines to watch as the Rams wrap up their 2009 season.
Will Steven Jackson stay healthy enough to finish the season AND play next year? The Rams are wearing Jackson thin and his back has started to give out from trying to carry this team. Spagnuolo has taken a little heat for riding SJ39 even when the team was burried late in the game. This week he carried the ball just 19 times, his lowest total since week 6, and didn't see much action on the Rams final drives. Preserving Jackson's health for next season is must. However, talk of shutting him down for the season is premature. I can't imagine Jackson willing to be shut down for the last three games. The better solution is to start giving Kenneth Darby some carries.
Who will be the QB of the near future? It's becoming apparent that the Rams would prefer to go with Boller as their starter, partly because they feel he gives them the best chance to win and partly because they don't want to expose rookie Keith Null to the broken confidence that comes with being the Rams QB. The Rams last three games are against teams in the playoff picture. Houston, this week, and San Francisco, the last week, are desperately clawing their way toward spots and can't afford to lose games. The Cardinals will be looking to fine tune their inconsistencies before going to the playoffs...and keeping the 49ers at bay by winning their final games. That won't make life any easier for Keith Null should he become the starter.
Can the Rams win another game? Get used to the idea of 1-15. I discussed the schedule in the graph above and it doesn't look friendly for the Rams. Of course, anything could happen. Hey, look at this pattern: 3 wins in 2007, 2 wins in 2008 and 1 win in 2009. Does the countdown continue in 2010 or can the Rams reset it?