Well, it stung a bit, but it’s over.
The Los Angeles Rams dropped their first game of 2018 in Week 9 falling to 8-1 overall after a 35-45 loss to the New Orleans Saints. With the first L in the rear view, here’s how things are shaping up overall.
I didn’t see anyone go down in action yesterday, so I don’t know if the Rams have anything significant that they’ve picked up. We’ll see on the first injury report on Wednesday, but things looked good yesterday on this front especially with WR Cooper Kupp back.
Aaaaaaaand this was the bigger problem. And it’s all on the defensive side.
Unlike Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers where the Rams struggled on offense as the defense held firm to allow the offense back into the game, we got the opposite yesterday as the defense didn’t get their first stop until after the offense had scored 24 points and could have had more had the fake FG led to a first down and K Greg Zuerlein not missed a 51-yarder.
Concerns should start up front where the Rams struggled to contain the run early and pressure QB Drew Brees effectively. But certainly, the coverage on WR Michael Thomas was lacking throughout the day and much of that criticism is being levied, fairly, on CB Marcus Peters.
It’s not a new issue, but it was one that was consistently exploited as the Rams favored providing help elsewhere with Fan Favorite CB Troy Hill and the linebackers successfully blanketing things for the most part in the second half. I think to a degree, the Rams had to isolate their issues one way or another and they went with trusting Peters to just figure out a way to stick with Thomas and make a play. I think once in about 14 plays.
So obviously in terms of an overreaction Monday, Peters is going to be the headline target as we come out of this one, and that’s not unwarranted. But he’s a two-time Pro Bowler for a reason. And he’s the CB1 for a reason. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rams figure out a way to begin supporting him more to help him get back on more solid footing performance-wise especially when not facing one of the NFL’s best young wideouts in Thomas and an offense as threatening overall as the Saints’.
With the Seahawks coming to the Coliseum in Week 9, the Rams can get close to clinching the division with a win next weekend.
But things are starting to look very interesting as the NFC playoff picture continues to develop:
The Rams and Saints are still in the prime positions, but the Carolina Panthers are playing really good football right now. Their upcoming game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday will be a huge interconference battle.
Maybe more interesting is that beyond the Rams, Saints and Panthers, you’ve got a pretty unexpected layout in the conference standings. The Chicago Bears and Washington Surprisers are both ahead of last year’s NFC Conference entrants in the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles. The Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, Eagles and Green Bay Packers all aren’t above .500 at this point. And with the Dallas Cowboys facing the Tennessee Titans tonight on Monday Football and then getting another national showout against the Eagles next week on Sunday Night Football, they’re going to have a major impact on how the conference shapes up over the next seven days.