If you were to only read TST the Rams are a shoe in for 10+ wins and a playoff berth. If you are listening to the ‘experts’ we will not have a winning record. So how are you going to define success in 2014? It’s nice to say we must get into the playoffs or we must win X number of games. But is that realistic? So let’s level set for a moment.
Nick Wagoner who is fairly knowledgeable on all things Rams says "right now I think 7 or 8 is probably where I'd tend to lean." Source: http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/id/50645/rams-with-nick-wagoner
CG Technology, which operates eight Nevada sports books has the Rams favored in only 4 games and two of those by a field goal or less. Minnesota (-4.5), Oakland (-5.5), Arizona (-1), N.Y. Giants (-3). Source: http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/05/21/oddsmaker-raiders-jaguars-underdogs-in-each-of-first-15-games/
Cantor Gaming has our win total projected at 6.5. Source: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/24476403/here-are-the-predicted-2014-nfl-win-totals
A1G has us drafting at #14 so we finish with a record behind 18 teams. Source: http://a1gsports.com/way-too-early-2014-2015-nfl-preview-projected-division-rankings-playoff-teams-draft-order/
SI has us ranked 20th in their power rankings which means a losing record. Source: http://nfl.si.com/2014/05/21/nfl-power-rankings-post-2014-nfl-draft/2/
ESPN has us ranked 18th in their post draft power rankings. Likely a losing record. Source: http://espn.go.com/nfl/powerrankings
CBS has us ranked 19th in their power rankings. Likely a losing record. Source: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/powerrankings
Fox Sports has us ranked 18th. Likely a losing a record. Source: http://msn.foxsports.com/wisconsin/lists/ranking-the-32-nfl-teams-heading-into-2014-season-051214#img_14
Walter Football, our biggest fans apparently, have us ranked #9 in their power ranking. However, we are still raked fourth in our division. So a winning record but no playoffs. Source: http://walterfootball.com/nflpowerrankings.php
NLF.com has us ranked 23rd in their power rankings. A losing record. Source: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000335306/article/nfl-power-rankings-who-can-dethrone-the-seattle-seahawks
Doc’s Sports Service…WHO? I included them because they actually think we will have a winning record at 9-7. Source: http://www.docsports.com/2014/nfl-schedule-analysis-nfc-futures-odds-picks-predictions-890.html
CappersPicks has us 8-8 with a game by game breakdown. Source: http://www.capperspicks.com/blog/nfl/2014-st-louis-rams-schedule-season-handicapping-picks-6514/
Bleacher Report has us at 8-8. Source: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2029170-st-louis-rams-schedule-2014-win-loss-predictions-for-every-game
So there you have a baker’s dozen sports sites that have weighed in. Consensus is we will not have a winning record. Even the most optimistic of them does not have us in the playoffs. So let’s circle back to the question. What is a successful 2014 season for the Rams?
If both SF & SEA go something like 13-3 and we get swept by them and Denver goes back to the SB (and we lose to them) that doesn’t mean we are a bad team. It just means we got beat by a better team.
Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I think we will put a better team on the field this year than we did last year. I think our talent is better. But the top two teams in our division were better than we were last year and while we are closing the gap, any objective analysis says they still have more talent. Can we beat them, of course? Will it surprise anyone who is not a Rams fan if we don’t, not at all.
I am getting concerned that during this time of unbridled optimism post draft and before the pre-season that some people are creating unrealistic expectations. Here is what I would consider a successful 2014.
We beat the teams we are supposed to beat. All of them. No getting beat by an Atlanta team we should have handled easily. Right now that is somewhere between 4 and 8. If we do that early the games we are picked to win will go up as the season goes on.
We need to beat a few teams that the experts feel we shouldn’t. Like last year we need to take it to projected playoff teams like we did to Indy & N.O. in 2013. Sweeping the AFC West would do the trick for me.
We need to at a minimum split our six division games. 4-2 would be better.
We need to show up and be competitive every game. No rolling over and playing dead like we did in Dallas last year and even if we lose to Sea, an 18 point lose is not OK and no way AZ is 20 points better than us.
Now I don’t know what record the above will yield us but this is directionally correct. If to start the season we are only favored in four games, point 1 is four wins. If we can knock off the AFC West per point 2, that is another three wins since we are already favored to beat Oakland. If we can split within the division that’s another two wins since we are favored to beat AZ at home. That’s 9 wins.
If we look back on the 2014 season and have accomplished those four things, I for one will call it a successful season regardless of record. It should be at least 9 wins. I think it is very unlikely we make the playoffs however.