ESPN’s Bill Barnwell has his five teams most likely to decline in 2019 up, and his first entry?
The 2019 Los Angeles Rams.
Barnwell’s list of reasons why to include the Rams is rather lengthy:
- The Rams’ fortune in closer games ending with a 6-1 record
- An unbelievably strong fumble recovery rate
- A relatively average defense
- Offensive line turnover
- The ridiculous run the Rams have had on the injury front going back to 2016
- The patella novella
- A potential increase in strength of schedule difficulty
Yeah, that’s quite a list.
I’ve got one to add to it in a piece I’ll have up later this week, but all of that’s fair reason to think the Rams might regress a bit in 2019. The good thing is that a regression for a team that went 13-3 might still be 11-5 with the potential for a playoff run.
It’s also worth noting the other teams Barnwell tabbed to step down a bit this year. He’s got the two teams the Rams played in the playoffs en route to Super Bowl LIII: the New Orleans Saints and the Dallas Cowboys. He’s also got the Rams’ cross-town pals in the Los Angeles Chargers. Given that all four made the playoffs, they’re all fine candidates to fall off the perch since you have to be on a perch in the first place...unless you’re the Miami Dolphins, Barnwell’s fifth team. Gotta feel for Fins fans right now.
In the end, the Rams do have challenges to face this season. And coming out of the Super Bowl, they’ll certainly be targeted week-to-week by teams looking to summon their best.
But for all the reasons to expect a decline, there are plenty of reasons to think this team will be well positioned to earn another division title and make a playoff run.