The Los Angeles Rams’ season is shaping up around three major storylines. One, the continued development of franchise QB Jared Goff. Two, the competitive balance in the NFC. But most importantly for this season specifically is the continued calcification of the expectations around what’s fairly being billed as a Super Bowl or bust season.
Odds that came out yesterday had the Rams as the third-favorite team to win Super Bowl LIII, the highest preseason odds this franchise has seen in more than a decade and a half. Put simply, the pressure on this team to perform is higher than it has been in a long, long, long time.
Today, a new set of power rankings from NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison reinforce those expectations as the Rams come in near the very top of the entire NFL.
Consider that three months ago after Super Bowl LII, ESPN’s power rankings plugged the Rams just inside the top 10. A month and a half later after the first wave of free agency as the Rams brought in CB Aqib Talib and CB Marcus Peters while re-signing CB Nickell Robey-Coleman and losing both WR Sammy Watkins and CB Trumaine Johnson to the market, Harrison bumped them up to #6.
Now? The Rams are just looking up at the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles:
2. Los Angeles Rams
Too high? No way. The Rams did nothing but make their football team better this offseason. They fortified the defense, a group that steadily improved last season, with the additions of veterans Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and -- since we last completed this exercise -- Ndamukong Suh. Suh might not have dominated in Miami, but he was far from a bust. Putting him next to Aaron Donald was like parking a 1978 Trans Am with gold trim next to the blue-and-white ‘69 GTO you’ve had sitting in your driveway earning Defensive Player of the Year honors. Trade acquisition Brandin Cooks doesn’t exactly “replace” Sammy Watkins at receiver. Different players. Doesn’t matter. This offense is gonna rake.
There’s nothing to really argue with which is the entire takeaway.
The national media is looking at the Rams as a legitimate Super Bowl contender in May. And they’re going to be expected to look like it immediately even in a congested NFC.
Harrison’s top 10 has just three AFC teams. That means he’s got seven NFC teams in his top 10 with just six playoff spots available. It’s a fair reminder of how brutal the Rams’ 2018 schedule is especially with the odds looking at perhaps low over-under win projections for a team being looked at this favorably.
Consider that a year ago in these very same power rankings, the Rams were a bottom five team. Now, they’re behind only the Super Bowl champions and looked at as legitimate top tier candidates.
What a difference a year makes.