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With only one meaningful game remaining in the 2012 season [sorry Pro Bowl], NFL fans and experts fire off predictions about the Super Bowl, and potential acquisitions of the 2013 offseason. Tis the season! But how often do prognostications meet fruition? Some teams are defying the odds. Can the Rams?
Prior to the onset of the 2012 regular season, Vegas odds had the Patriots and Packers as favorites to win Super Bowl XLVII; at 5-1 and 11-2, respectively. Close, but no cigar. As we know now, the San Francisco 49ers [10-1] and Baltimore Ravens [20-1] are the two teams vying for the Lombardi trophy.
In what I would consider - in hindsight - a bit of a surprise, Vegas gave the St. Louis Rams a 50-1 shot at playing in the big game. I say ‘surprised,' not because of the final results of the 2012 regular season for the Rams, but more so for the 50-1 chance having just come off a 2-14 season. Vegas was, however, correct about the Jaguars being terrible, having given them 150-1 odds. They didn’t disappoint.
Suffice to say, the Rams 2012 campaign should be viewed as a success. At a minimum it should be remembered as the season where the Rams got back on track, and proved to be a legitimate contender, not only in their division [where they lost only one game], but amongst the NFL. The team, though, hasn’t posted a .500 record since 2006, nor a winning record since 2003. I suppose it’s probably difficult to boast better than a 50-1 shot at a Super Bowl, when winning half of your comes as a struggle.
For the Rams, and their fans, progress is the minimal expectation for the team in 2013. The Rams were still in contention for the playoffs up until Week 15’s loss to the Vikings. For a team that had major contributions from several players fresh out of the 2012 draft, the results of the season [a 7-8-1 record] provide a glimmer of hope for the upcoming season. Yet the NFC West looks to be far more challenging heading into 2013 than it did prior to 2012. Again, the Rams have proven they can beat those teams.
As for 2014’s Super Bowl [XLVIII], Vegas has recently released their early odds for NFL teams. If by some chance they’re correct, the New England Patriots [6-1] would be facing off against the San Francisco 49ers [8-1], who would be making their second consecutive trip to the Super Bowl. The Seattle Seahawks, who were also 50-1 odds heading into 2012, are now a more formidable foe in the West, at 10-1.
The Rams, knowing what we know and having seen what we’ve seen, are sure to have a better shot at making it the Super Bowl, right? Wrong. It appears they are destined to be locked in as 50-1 long shots until they can prove the ability to make it to the postseason. Approximately 1/4 of the league [7 teams] share the odds, and twelve of the NFL’s teams are 50-1 or worse.
Obviously, these are to be taken with a grain of salt. Nothing in sports is certain, and predicting who’s going to the Super Bowl over 375 days in advance is probably as easy as predicting Mr. Irrelevant in the upcoming draft. A single injury can derail a team’s chance of making it to the Super Bowl, and teams have proven that they can quickly turn around seasons of defeat to become legitimate threats to go all the way.
The Rams aren’t the 2014 Super Bowl favorites. They’ve played the ‘underdog’ role for many years now, so it’s to be expected. The 50-1 odds don't come as a shock, but I would be surprised if they’re given a 50-1 shot after the 2013 season comes to a close. Progress…we should expect to see it in the odds.
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