It's that time of year when the week's seem really compressed, tucked between two major holiday times. Sometimes that's good, but it also makes the last month of the NFL season go by really fast. Let's check in with a heaping helping of news and comment.
Bernie Miklasz at the PD runs down the NFC West race with 5 games left to play. The St. Louis Rams are in the best spot considering their schedule, the way they're playing and injuries. Plenty of things can happen, but the Rams definitely control their own destiny.
It's unlikely you'll see the Rams in prime time this season. I doubt that's the case next year.
Underrated, yeah, that sums up the Rams and their players, to a degree. Several of those players also landed on the All-Underrarted team, as named by Doug Farrar over at the Shutdown Corner blog. RT Jason Smith made the All-Underrated Offense. Farrar points out that Smith has given up just two sacks despite Bradford's constant rollout to the right side. Given how effective Bradford is on those rollouts, it kind of makes you wonder if that's not part of the reason the Rams coaches left Smith on the right side.
James Hall and James Laurinaitis make the list for defense. Hall's pass rushing renaissance has been a big part of the Rams effectiveness on defense this year. And here's what Farrar says about Lauinaitis:
Laurinaitis may be on his way to being the best middle linebacker in the game. Coaches have raved about his intelligence since the Rams took him in the second round in 2009, and no 4-3 middle linebacker has done more this season to prevent successful plays.
Best middle linebacker in the game, and a steal of a deal in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Better drafts have already paid big dividends for the Rams...just think where they'd be if the franchise hadn't screwed up all those drafts.
The Sporting News takes a look at just how much things have changed for the Cardinals and the Rams since that week 1 loss.