3k touched on just how fickle the NFL can be, and I don’t think that the Rams season can be considered an exception. The team has showed it can be competitive and has thrice proven it can beat an opponent that most thought they couldn’t. The Rams are still in the beginning stages of becoming the team that you need take seriously, but regardless of whether NFL opponents approach it that way, they are.
A '.500 record' certainly doesn’t have the ‘winning’ ring to it that it did coming into Week 6. A game that could’ve been won slipped away as the Rams relied on it’s oft-reliable rookie kicker. A game cannot be defined by it’s last play, and faith should not be lost in Legatron. The Rams, in the opinions of many, are now entering the most difficult three-game stretch of their season. The Packers, Patriots, and 49ers sounds like a most undesirable three-pack of games, if you ask me. Yet, the 2012 Rams cannot be counted out of any of these games.
The Rams have yet to lose at home. The Packers, who have an extremely explosive offense, come to town this weekend having just devastated the Houston Texans on their own turf. If home is England, then consider us the favorites in London, where the Rams will host the New England Patriots…one of two winning teams in the AFC, and another likely candidate to be playing for a trophy. The 49ers have been deemed ‘favorites’ to win the NFC by many ‘experts,’ and for good reason. The Alex Smith lead offense appears to be more effective this season. Short of the Giants and Baltimore games, I can’t think of three opponents I’d rather not be facing. Yet, the Rams remain competitive and overcome the odds…
St. Louis is 2-0 in the division. That’s undefeated. SF has the opportunity to remain undefeated in the NFC West, yet the result of the Thursday night game will be their only divisional statistic. One of the teams in this Thursday night match up will have three losses, though, and therefore it leaves the door open for the Rams to find themselves in 2nd place in a very competitive division - a division where they’re realizing success. Even at 3-3, the Rams once again see themselves in the cellar of the West. In all probability, this is where most expect to see the Rams. Fine by me… Let them continue to doubt while the Rams lurk in the shadows.
The stars are aligning somewhat for the Rams this Sunday, yet this game is clearly no easy win. The Packers are coming off a 7 TD performance - on the road - and against one of the best teams in the NFL. One could be intimated. Why not? The Packers have been a legitimate team with an almost unstoppable passing game for several years. The Rams, however, have their defensive line intact, are showing some serious talent at linebacker, and have one of the NFL’s best secondaries. Couple that with the Packers injury list - a rowdy home crowd who will fill a packed dome - where the Rams have managed to win, win, and win…and you’re cookin' with gas!
About that solace - There are only NINE winning teams in the entire NFL. Two of those teams are from the AFC, which tells you what kind of competition the Rams find themselves in. That leaves seven teams from the NFC. You may or may not already know, but I’ll bring it to your attention in case you didn't…the NFC West has three of those seven teams, and 33% of the entire NFL’s winning teams. Feel free to let me know if you could’ve predicted that, and if so you probably own one of these.
The question is, though, have you found yourselves trying to justify the Rams legitimacy based upon the remainder current standings of the league? This division is going to be tough. The Rams, finding themselves in the bottom, are right in the thick of things. There are other NFL teams that had more ‘promise,’ who are a long way away from being legit. Let’s take a look:
* The Atlanta Falcons are the only undefeated team [6-0]
* Two teams find themselves at 5-1: Ravens and Texans
* The Bears have only ONE loss as well [4-1]
* The NFL has FIVE two-loss teams [SF, ARI, SEA, NYG, MIN]
* The NFL has SIXTEEN three-loss teams
* Going downhill, there are FIVE four-loss teams
* Lastly, with no completely-defeated’s in the NFL, there are TWO teams that have lost five games
…knowing that, how is your Monday morning water cooler confidence? Do you look at teams like New Orleans, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and think ‘we’re better than those teams?’ Don’t be shy, you deserve it. For instance, my co-workers know I’m a Rams fan. Living in NOVA, I’m the sole fan in my workplace, but that doesn't stop me from parading around the ‘office’ when the Rams beat the Skins. Does knowing that HALF of the NFL is also at 3-3 afford you the opportunity to say ‘yeah, that was another nice Rams win,’ or ‘that missed field goal cost us the game?’
It’s a strong possibility that you’ve said both, and if your workplace is anything like mine, people would surprisingly understand. I love talking sports with the people I work with, and I love talking Rams with them too.. It’s been a while since I could sound confident about our direction, but the Rams performance this season has made my words hold value. No matter the outcome of this weekends match-up against the Packers, I feel confident that I can still stand by the water cooler and discuss my favorite team’s performance.
I find solace, whether wrong or right. Do you?