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What will the standings look like for the 2021 NFL season?

How will the Rams fare in the league’s first 17-game season?

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Despite losing starting running back Cam Akers for the season, the Los Angeles Rams remain among the favorites to win Super Bowl LVI. The injury moved the Rams down to the fifth-best odds to win the Big Game, tied with the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.

This shift dropped LA behind the 49ers in odds to win the NFC West and the conference.

Overall, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still heavily favored to repeat as champions. Thankfully, Akers’ injury didn’t tank the Rams’ Super Bowl chances too much. There is still much that can happen before the season kicks off. At this time, we can remain optimistic that Los Angeles can win the coveted Lombardi Trophy.

Before the Rams can begin their run at winning a Super Bowl in their own stadium, let’s dive into the state of the NFL to see what they’ll be up against.

AFC East

Bills (13-4)

Patriots (9-8)

Dolphins (8-9)

NY Jets (4-13)

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo suffered heartbreak in the AFC Championship, but it’s clear they have a ways to go before catching up to the Chiefs. Josh Allen keeps improving each year, meaning an MVP award could be soon in his grasp. The trade for Stefon Diggs was one of the best in recent memory and a key factor for Allen’s ascension to greatness. All signs point up for a group that could play in Los Angeles in February.

You won’t like Bill Belichick when he’s angry, he might cut off your sleeves. BB spent money in free agency like a teenager using their parent’s credit card for the first time. A lot of talent was needed and they have to deliver to be considered wise investments.

Miami is building a strong culture with head coach Brian Flores in charge. The Dolphins missed the playoffs by a game last season. They’ll need extra help from second-year passer Tua Tagovailoa, who has maybe his last chance to assert himself as lead alpha. New York finally purged themselves of Adam Gase and his unnerving googly eyes. Rookie Zach Wilson already has more help than Sam Darnold ever did. The Jets aren’t going to be unwatchable like last season, but it’ll take a while before they’re considered ready for primetime.

AFC North

Browns (12-5)

Ravens (11-6)

Steelers (8-9)

Bengals (5-12)

Man, it feels strange talking about how good the Browns are. It seems like just a few seasons ago, they one a single game in a span of two years. They grow up so fast! Cleveland has a top-five roster heading into the season. The amount of talent on offense and defense is unfair and the Brownies could become a dark horse Super Bowl favorite if everything goes according to plan. I guess Baker Mayfield made the correct switch to Progressive.

Baltimore should be great again as Lamar Jackson has done nothing but win from the moment he stepped onto an NFL field. The Ravens and Browns should be battling for the mighty North all season long.

Big Ben is on his last legs in Pittsburgh. Mike Tomlin will always fire up his team, but his team’s slump after beginning 11-0 is a sign of bigger and more painful things to come in the steel city. As long as Joe Burrow isn’t rushed back too soon, the Bengals should play spoiler for their division counterparts. They’ve added firepower in the draft pairing Burrow’s LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Opposing teams will have a difficult time stopping them but Cincy is nothing but a cellar dweller at least for this upcoming campaign.

AFC South

Titans (11-6)

Colts (9-8)

Jaguars (4-13)

Texans (2-15)

The Titans have worn a lot of tread on Derrick Henry’s tires. It’s likely he’ll take a step back as his number of carries aren’t sustainable even for someone as muscle-bound as him. Despite this, King Henry isn’t human so I’ll probably be very wrong about a guy who could stiff-arm me into another dimension if he ever read this. Ryan Tannehill proved he wasn’t a one-year wonder, and now he has Julio Jones and A.J. Brown catching his passes.

Indy has yet another quarterback, as Carson Wentz takes his turn in filling Andrew Luck’s shoes. The Colts have a challenging opening slate which could make-or-break them in the early goings. This is not how to welcome a player like Wentz whose confidence was already shattered to pieces. However, Indianapolis has the league’s best offensive line and an emerging defense. If anyone could make it through such a challenge, it’s them.

Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence will experience quite the learning curve as they transition to the NFL. Lawrence will have a smoother time as he’s a generational talent at his position. Meyer will immediately learn the pros aren’t Florida or Ohio State so he’ll either adjust or jump ship in a hurry. Houston has a MAJOR problem. Absolutely nothing will go right for this trainwreck. That’s all I’m going to say because I’m not in the mood to develop a dizzying headache recapping everything. Just wait for the movie folks.

AFC West

Chiefs (13-4)

LA Chargers (10-7)

Raiders (8-9)

Broncos (7-10)

After watching Patick Mahomes run for his life from a vicious Buccaneers front in the Super Bowl, it was clear he needed something to protect him besides the Patrick price. Kansas City followed through as Mahomes will have all-new starters on his offensive line. Besides wondering how his line will mesh, there’s little question who will continue dominating the AFC. This is the clear-cut favorite in the conference and could appear in their third-straight title game if they don’t let the Bucs pillage their confidence.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers Minicamp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LA, with new head coach Brandon Staley, might push for a wild card berth. Further development of reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert will have a lot to say as to how the Chargers will do. They’re stacked on both sides of the ball and we haven’t seen what this team could do if fully healthy. If so, they could give the Chiefs everything they can handle. Sorry Vegas, Gruden isn’t gone yet.

The Raiders have tried to earn a playoff spot the last couple years, but faltered down the stretch. Don’t expect this season to be any different, as this organization remains stuck in neutral. Denver has what could be the best defense in the league. That unit will be the only thing keeping the Broncos in games, as their game of quarterback musical chairs returns, this time featuring Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. It won’t matter who starts under center for them. This will be a painfully mediocre group and no defense can save them from such a cruel fate.

NFC East

Cowboys (9-8)

Washington (8-9)

NY Giants (6-11)

Eagles (4-13)

Dallas owner Jerry Jones has said he’ll do “anything known to man to get to a Super Bowl”. Kind of makes me wonder what he’d do for a Klondike bar. Anyways, how bout them Cowboys’ offensive weapons which are among the best in the NFL? CeeDee Lamb could take over WR1 duties from Amari Cooper. Quarterback Dak Prescott might be a comeback player of the year finalist if he can bounce back from his gruesome ankle injury. Defense truly can’t be any worse than last year but this is the Cowboys we’re talking about so nothing about them should surprise us.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The East is easily the weakest division with the worst grouping of signal callers. Washington, despite their nasty defense and promising offensive additions, could be weighed down by quarterback issues. I’m not sure how much sorcery can be pulled out of Fitzmagic’s beard.

New York needs Daniel Jones not to trip over his own feet and fumble every other drop back. The Giants also need a full season of Saquon Barkley, whose absence no doubt caused Danny Dimes to struggle mightily through a sophomore slump. Philly is a slightly more functional version of the Texans. This team is going to suffer numerous growing pains throughout the season as they develop several of their young starters. Jalen Hurts could be dynamic if his skillset is properly utilized. If not, let’s just say the team won’t be shown much brotherly love from their city.

NFC North

Packers (11-6)

Vikings (8-9)

Bears (8-9)

Lions (5-12)

Syndication: PackersNews Wm. Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-W via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Packers have a HUGE asterisk by their name because no one knows what Aaron Rodgers is doing. At this point, I’m not even sure Rodgers himself knows what he’s doing. Throughout the offseason, the only things he’s been consistent at is being vague about his future and dividing the fanbase. C’mon, Rodgers, just say you want to break-up already. I mean, you’ve done it a few times the last several years, so this time should be just as easy. Rant over, but Green Bay has a quality roster, but that won’t matter if Jordan Love or God forbid, Blake Bortles are forced into action.

The Vikings and Bears will alternate between second and third place all season long. Minnesota has stud youngsters in Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson to build off of. Their defense should improve a bit but this team might not have enough juice to be postseason contenders. In Chicago, no one knows how long the Bears will ride the Andy Dalton train before rookie Justin Fields is handed the controls. They need to field a presentable offense before too long or else they’ll be wasting a top-notch D like their Mile High counterparts.

The Lions will do all they can to bite some kneecaps off. First-year head coach Dan Campbell can talk the talk but it’s up to his players to walk the walk. They won’t be a pushover as they were under Patricia, but poor Detroit will still be horrible. On a positive note, at least their fans can enjoy another Thanksgiving without indigestion.

NFC South

Buccaneers (14-3)

Saints (9-8)

Falcons (6-11)

Panthers (5-12)

The Bucs have one of the best rosters in the entire league but I’m probably among only the 40 percent of fans that actually believe it. Tom Brady and company will see no roster turnover as every major contributor from their Super Bowl team returns. They’ll face a difficult path in attempting to repeat as champs. However, this team has no flaws and very well could represent the NFC once again. Playing into the Bucs’ favor is that their division is full of uncertainty.

The Saints have a gaping hole at quarterback after the retirement of Drew Brees. It’s unclear whether Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill will fill the void. Sean Payton will figure it out but he should know it’s near impossible to scheme around colorblindness. Atlanta should light up the scoreboard despite trading Julio Jones to Tennessee. Rookie tight end Kyle Pitts will join rising superstar pass catcher Calvin Ridley to form a formidable duo for Matt Ryan to throw to. The defense has been nonexistent since blowing a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI, so expect the Falcons to be playing from behind often.

Carolina will be competitive as they continue their rebuild. The Panthers (and fantasy owners) will need Christian McCaffrey to stay healthy and hope new quarterback Sam Darnold doesn’t see anymore ghosts. I like what Matt Rhule is building in Charlotte but this team is likely a year or two away from playoff competition. Until then, the South is the Buccaneers to lose.

NFC West

LA Rams (12-5)

Seahawks (11-6)

Cardinals (9-8)

49ers (8-9)

Losing Cam Akers for the season is painful, but it won’t sink LA. The Rams lost a few valuable starters on defense like Troy Hill, John Johnson and Michael Brockers. Not every team has Aaron Donald or Jalen Ramsey, so they can easily overcome these losses. Sean McVay got the quarterback of his dreams with Matthew Stafford. With no disrespect to Jared Goff, this is a clear upgrade at the game’s most valuable position. This Rams team will likely be the best of Stafford’s career. McVay will open the playbook in its entirety with deep shots galore to Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and newly-signed DeSean Jackson. Most critics will point out Stafford’s lack of playoff success in Detroit, but that’s the same franchise that drove Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson to early retirements. Matt can silence his critics by leading this NFC-favorite to a deep playoff run. This will require a brutal trip through the wild NFC West.

Seattle can never be counted out as long as Russell Wilson is slinging the ball and Pete Carroll is smacking his Bubble Yum. Arizona’s Kyler Murray is a one-of-a-kind athlete, but his team will only go as far as he can lead them. DeAndre Hopkins can’t bail him out with a Hail Murray every week.

San Francisco was a difficult team to predict as they can’t seem to stay healthy. The last time that happened, they advanced to the Super Bowl. This team has a lot of potential but a lot could go sideways per usual for Kyle Shanahan’s squad.

Poll

What is most realistic for the Rams this season?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Matthew Stafford throws over 40 touchdowns
    (203 votes)
  • 40%
    Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods both reach 1,000 yards and 10+ touchdown receptions
    (247 votes)
  • 15%
    Aaron Donald breaks the NFL sack record
    (93 votes)
  • 10%
    Darrell Henderson rushes for over 1,200 yards
    (67 votes)
610 votes total Vote Now