After the first four games of the season, the Los Angeles Rams rank fourth in net yards per pass attempt and second in DVOA for offense. The Rams are eighth in passing DVOA, first in rushing DVOA and they have a sizable advantage on the ground as compared to most of the other top offenses around the league. However, Los Angeles has faced the 11th “easiest” strength of schedule of defenses in the league by DVOA and that is going to change beginning this week against the Washington Football Team.
Football Team entered the season with the lowest of expectations and offensively they’ve lived down to the hype. Washington ranks 30th in points and yards, 29th in yards per pass and 31st in yards per carry. They are 29th on offense by DVOA and 31st in passing. But head coach Ron Rivera, architect of several great defenses with the Carolina Panthers, has put Football Team in position to be one of the hardest teams in the NFL to throw against.
Through four games, Washington ranks ninth in net yards per pass allowed, fifth in EPA against the pass and third in DVOA against the pass. They have faced Carson Wentz and the Eagles, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals, Baker Mayfield and the Browns and Lamar Jackson and the Ravens en route to this shockingly elite ranking.
It’s unclear at this point if Chase Young, the second overall pick in the 2020 draft and one of the best pass rushers in the league to open this season, will be available but even without him the Football Team has managed to play great defense from what we’ve seen already.
The pass defenses that the Rams have faced in the first four games rank 25th (DAL), 16th (PHI), 17th (BUF) and 24th (NYG) by DVOA.
The pass defenses that the Rams face in the next three games rank third (WAS), sixth (SF) and fifth (CHI).
It’s unclear when Richard Sherman will return from the IR but he’s eligible to do so now and the 49ers have 12 more days until they host the Rams. They could also get back Ahkello Witherspoon, Dre Greenlaw and Dee Ford by then. Even with injuries, San Francisco ranks third in points and yards allowed, second in net yards per pass and they were the best pass defense in the NFL in 2019.
Jared Goff’s lowest adjusted yards per attempt (3.25) of 2019 came against the 49ers and while he was better in the other game, LA still lost 34-31 and the offense had 19 incomplete passes with only three points on their final three drives.
The Bears are shuffling quarterbacks again but rank seventh in points allowed and are tied with the 49ers in fewest passing touchdowns allowed: 3. Chicago is allowing fewer than 6 adjusted yards per pass and they’re third in third down defense. Even facing the Falcons in Week 3, the Bears found opportunities to be dominant en route to a comeback victory against Atlanta.
The Falcons gained a total of 95 yards on their last seven drives of the game, punting four times, missing a field goal and only getting three points — that coming after a one-yard drive by Atlanta.
Matt Ryan was 19 of 38 for 238 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the game, getting sacked twice.
The Rams and Sean McVay deserve every bit of credit for producing what they’ve needed in the first four games to start 3-1 and to be this shy of a perfect record. However, they haven’t faced any defenses as good as the next three they are set to face and how the offense fares after seven games will be a much better indicator of how they’ll do if they reach the postseason in 2020.