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The strange sound of the Rams and the playoffs in the same thought

Even after a 1-15 season, the wave of hope that fans were riding back in August surprised me. Speculation about the number of wins this team could scratch out ranged from 3 to 8, even the occasional prediction of 9 wins from the most wide-eyed optimists. Yet visions of six hundred percent more wins isn't what made 2010 feel so promising. It wasn't all that long ago that the Rams used to win games; just a decade earlier they shocked the world with a Super Bowl win. Then franchise slid into decline, decaying from a rotten core and a void of leadership in the front office. Win or lose this season, those days were behind us.

The St. Louis Rams had their annual training camp scrimmage and fans saw a very clear vision of the future, a princely quarterback who could zing passes with deadly accuracy to any eligible receiver whose hands weren't sewn together. Expectations grew. The team played well in the preseason, not just winning games based on the matchups of 3third stringers. Expectations grew again.

At a certain point during the regular season, when the Rams win totals surpassed their body of work from the previous two years, the whole nature of expectations around the Rams changed. Their peers in the NFC West struggled. Somebody had to win the division and there was no reason it couldn't be the Rams.

And here we are, not without a few stumbles. A couple of those close losses earlier in the season, and the Rams would have locked it up last week, if not earlier. But really, this is the most fitting circumstance: a prime time game, the first in years, against the hated Seattle Seahawks for a chance to be 8-8 and win the division.

Less than 12 hours from now...enjoy it Rams fans, it's been a long time coming.