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Can The St. Louis Rams Make The Playoffs?

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May 23, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams linebacker Aaron Brown (50) talks during an OTA at ContinuityX Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
May 23, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams linebacker Aaron Brown (50) talks during an OTA at ContinuityX Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

The raw optimism of infinite possibility makes training camp one of the most pleasant times of the football season. For fans of the St. Louis Rams, that's been about the only time of year for finding silver linings. Having run this little site since 2006, I've been burned by it again and again. I'm more guarded than I ever have been this season, but even the most cynical observers can look at this team and see that they are headed in the right direction.

In the spirit of doling out some optimism, the most negative person you can image put together a list of reasons to be optimistic for each NFC team this year. And for the Rams?

The St. Louis Rams have a long road to the playoffs, but they can make it back thanks to playing in a wide open NFC West. What really helps the Rams in their division is that they have two essential ingredients for taking on three shaky quarterback situations in six of their games. Cortland Finnegan, one of the NFL's best pass defenders last year, joins Janoris Jenkins to lead a suddenly deep group of corners. In front of them is a defensive line headlined by Chris Long, who had 13 sacks and 83 total pressures last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

The playoffs is probably a little (a lot) far fetched for the Rams this season, but this is a wide open division. As I said above, if the defense really clicks, it could push them further than expected. Case in point, last year's Seattle Seahawks, who nobody expected to finish the season at 8-8 while filling out their August predictions.

What's unsaid in the overly positive paragraph above, is that the Rams offense needs to make a major leap forward. The immediate future is far less clear on that front, but it could surprise folks too.