This is the time.
This is the time when the Los Angeles Rams begin facing new expectations, the kind they have so rarely faced in the last 14 seasons. The time when they begin facing themselves.
Don't get me wrong. The Seattle Seahawks are no pushover. Yes, they look perhaps not the Seattle Seahawks of recent years with a porous offensive line, an aging Legion of Boom defense and a questionable depth chart overall, but they're still the Seahawks.
But the Rams are perhaps playing themselves more than the Seahawks today. They're playing against their former selves.
The Rams' offensive explosion has been entirely unpredictable to the degree to which it has excelled. Perhaps facing the strongest defense they have yet this year, can QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley and the entirety of the passing offense continue to excel under Head Coach Sean McVay?
The defense has been worrisome at best and entirely self-defeating at worst. Can Defense Coordinator Wade Phillips begin to show signs of how he is going to right the ship as the Rams begin heading toward late October and the most important weeks on the schedule?
And what of presence? McVay has wasted timeouts frequently in recent weeks. The Rams escaped San Francisco with a win and pulled off an incredibly valuable upset in Dallas. Neither was a dominating show, but ultimately all that matters is getting the W. Another close game would suggest that even with certain advantages on their side, the Rams are going to be in weekly nailbiters regardless of circumstance.
But perhaps the biggest shadow of their former selves the Rams are facing? Their home crowd.
This is the first opportunity to truly re-establish the Los Angeles part of the Los Angeles Rams.
Last year's return to LA was built on the back of a marketing plan that went unsupported by quality football, a 4-12 season that was played under the screams of Anthony Kiedis and the feigned interest of Kendrick Lamar, Britney Spears and others.
Today, there is no marketing needed. There is no false hype required.
Today's about football. And for the first time, there's a reason to believe that the Rams will be able to play it well enough to put themselves in an unfamiliar position.