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3 reasons that Rams could snatch defeat from jaws of victory against Lions

Just how in the world could the LA Rams blow a game they’re favored in by more than two touchdowns?

Los Angeles Rams v New York Giants Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams (-15.5) are heavy favorites against the Detroit Lions at DraftKings Sportsbook for this Sunday’s highly-anticipated showdown featuring Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff facing their former teams for the first time. Whether or not the Rams can cover to the tune of two touchdowns and a pair of successful two-point conversions is a question that could leave you pondering for hours, but in what world would Jared Goff manage to pull off the upset of his dreams?

To go into SoFi Stadium as a visitor in powder blue, with the NFL’s most hapless franchise of the Super Bowl era, and to pull out a victory against the head coach who didn’t think he was good enough. What scenarios would help Goff and the Lions do the improbable?

In the NFL, there are always at least a few reasons.

Any Given Sunday

The New York Jets haven’t even fielded a half-decent team since 2015, and that’s the only case of the last 10 seasons in which the Jets outscored their opponents by more than 15 points during the course of the year. The Jets finished 31st in points and 32nd in yards in 2019, then 32nd in both categories in 2020, and even now they are 32nd in points and 31st in yards through six weeks.

Good enough to beat the Rams last year.

Even if Jared Goff is no Matthew Stafford, it wasn’t as though the problem was that the Jets had snuffed out a quarterback on his last legs; Goff wasn’t good but he wasn’t terrible either. A Los Angeles team with Cam Akers in the backfield, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp as receivers, and most of the starters you see today (plus Stafford and Andrew Whitworth, who was on IR at the time) not only managed to lose to the New York Jets last year...but they were down 23-10 after three quarters.

One obvious reason that the Rams could lose to the Lions is that any team can lose to any team. Sometimes it is so difficult to imagine certain possibilities — the Jets held the Rams to 16 first downs, which was the best performance by New York’s defense all year — but the NFL doesn’t ask us to imagine the outcome of the games.

It asks us to watch them.

Because Jared Goff’s had enough of this shit

While it can be a difficult concept to grasp, there is no connection between thinking a player is relatively bad at professional football and thinking that the player is a bad person not worth rooting for—I think Goff is relatively bad at football but I wish him well.

Go be good with the Lions, why should that upset me?

Unfortunately for Lions fans and head coach Dan Campbell, Goff has not been good at football and after the most recent game, the quarterback was told (through a press conference by Campbell) to “step up” for Detroit. Will that finally light the fire under the former number one pick to be better than he’s been for the last three years?

When you look at some of Goff’s greatest hits, like 465 yards and 5 TDs against the Vikings in 2018, and 311 yards and 4 TDs against the Giants in 2017, you see a player who can do great things when he’s not under pressure. If Detroit is lucky enough to get tackle Taylor Decker back on the field this Sunday, perhaps that is one reason Goff won’t struggle against his old team.

Maybe knowing his old team from so many practices could give him a small advantage here or there—even if the exact same thing could be said for Aaron Donald’s relationship to Goff. What tendencies are the Rams aware of headed into Week 7?

LA’s defense has been elevated to a number four ranking in DVOA, one season after being ranked first, but that’s not without a spotty record from Week 1 until now. Could Jared Goff of all people be the next quarterback to lay down a blemish?

Bad Stafford

We haven’t seen a lot of “Bad Stafford” this season but I can’t strictly say that I’m unaware of who that is now. Rams fans have been subject to at least a few bad plays and a couple of bad quarters of “Bad Stafford” and as advertised, it is bad.

Such was the case in the first quarter of Week 6’s demolition of the New York Giants, which started out as a 3-0 deficit leading into quarter number two. That was in part because of Stafford twice taking sacks on third down in Giants territory and once again showing a bit of inaccuracy where no explanation for his errant passes could be found.

None other than...”Bad Stafford.”

Some people may take this point as me saying that I think Matthew Stafford is bad—check the last nine months of receipts on that idea and come back to me—but my excuse here is that I’m trying to figure out ways that something VERY UNEXPECTED will happen. Nothing here is what I expect to happen and we would all be surprised of “Bad Stafford” led to a Rams loss and Lions victory on Sunday.

Never before did we think a bad game by Stafford could lead to a Detroit Lions victory but 2021 has taught that truly anything is possible.