The Los Angeles Rams lost a rough 27-24 overtime game to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. While the Rams were able to clinch the NFC West as the game hit the extra period, the team stumbles into the playoffs on a low note despite winning five of their last six. Following the game, I started reflecting on the season and thought back to my own predictions for the team I made at the start of the season.
Before LA took on the Chicago Bears in the season opener at SoFi Stadium, I did a game-by-game look at how I predicted the 2021 Los Angeles Rams season to go. I wouldn’t say my record was spotless, but it would’ve been if Biff Tannen from Back to the Future let me read through his sports almanac.
This exercise will take a look at my prediction first and that’ll include snippets from the original article from September. Then, I will touch on what actually happened and roast myself in the process because I most definitely deserve it.
Week 1: vs Chicago Bears
“LA’s D is going to have a field day against Andy Dalton and the barely-there Bears. Chicago’s defense is still a top-10 unit but this clearly isn’t 2018. One positive from this game is that the Rams can test the strength of their offensive line against Khalil Mack, one of the better defensive players in the sport.”
How Rams Did: Won 34-14
The Rams defense really did have a field day against Andy Dalton, who threw an interception, lost a fumble and was sacked three times against a vicious LA front. This game introduced the Matthew Stafford era to a national audience and he didn’t disappoint, throwing a 53-yard bomb to Van Jefferson on the Rams’ opening series. Stafford was virtually flawless in this game and gave the Bears zero chance to pull off the upset. In all fairness, did anyone expect Chicago to win? Not even their own fans expected them to win and we all know how optimistic fans are in the Windy City (insert eye roll emoji).
My Record: 1-0
Rams Record: 1-0
Week 2: at Indianapolis Colts
“It’s still unclear whether Carson Wentz and All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson will both be available against the Rams...Anyways, the Colts might have one of the more complete rosters (if healthy) and because of this, they are a dark horse Super Bowl pick...The pass catchers leading the charge in his absence are young and unproven. Regardless of their opponent’s health, expect LA to remain unbeaten.”
How Rams Did: Won 27-24
It was uncertain at the beginning of the season regarding the status of Carson Wentz, but he was healthy enough to play and threw the dumbest shovel pass I’ve ever seen. Not to be forgotten, this was the game that Wentz sprained both his ankles. I mean, how do you do that unless you’re made of glass? I don’t understand how Indy fleeced a first-rounder out of Philly based on how reckless that guy plays. “Dark horse Super Bowl pick”, what a joke considering they lost out on the playoffs because they couldn’t beat a two-win Jaguars team and made Trevor Lawrence look deserving of his top draft selection for the first time all year. LA had to fight to come back and win this one. This game marked the first major flash into how unstoppable the Kupp-Stafford duo would be the rest of the year.
My Record: 2-0
Rams Record: 2-0
Week 3: vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
“Tampa has the most complete roster in the NFL, and will likely not become victimized by the Super Bowl hangover. The Bucs ended 2020 red hot and will begin that way prior to visiting LA. Last season, the Rams dealt the Buccaneers a close 27-24 loss at home before they caught fire. Expect Tampa to return the favor in a heartbreaker at SoFi.”
How Rams Did: Won 34-24
I should’ve seen this result coming but I couldn’t help myself. The Bucs were so strong to finish 2020 that they looked to be the most powerful defending champ since the Chiefs the year before. LA fans got their first glimpse as to what Stafford could do in a big game setting and he didn’t disappoint. Overall, I thought this was Stafford’s best performance of the season because he removed a lot of doubts at the time over his ability to perform under the brightest lights.
My Record: 2-1
Rams Record: 3-0
Week 4: vs Arizona Cardinals
“Fresh off losing to the Buccaneers, the Rams will be in search of a feel-good win. Why not enjoy some home cooking while beating the snot out of a divisional opponent? We already know that the Cards can move the ball as they’re led by QB1 Kyler Murray. The way this game will be decided is whether their defensive improvements will be considered upgrades when attempting to slow Stafford and company.”
How Rams Did: Lost 37-20
Well, this definitely didn’t end up being a feel-good win for the Rams. Kyler Murray and company moved the ball early and often, not getting the snot beat out of them as this ignoramus of a writer had previously thought. The Cardinals’ defensive improvements ended up being upgrades after all as they came after LA all afternoon. Oh well, can’t win them all.
My Record: 2-2
Rams Record: 3-1
Week 5: at Seattle Seahawks
“Seattle will be looking for some sweet revenge after being bounced in the Wild Card Round by the Rams at home last season...Seattle and Los Angeles will have a defensive battle but the Hawks will prevail on Thursday Night Football.”
How Rams Did: Won 26-17
Seattle never got their sweet revenge and Los Angeles got a first-hand look at a Seahawks team that was actually bad. Good thing they have a first round pick to change that next season...oops. This was the second game in the first half of the season that the Rams were involved in a weird injury, this time to Russell Wilson’s pointer finger that he flashes at all the rude drivers in his city. Russell is too nice to do that, I think he just lets those drivers pass by and tells them to have a lovely day. To make things even stranger, Geno Smith, yeah that Geno Smith, almost led a comeback attempt.
My Record: 2-3
Rams Record: 4-1
Week 6: at New York Giants
“A lot is uncertain about New York. Will running back Saquon Barkley be back to full health? Will receiver Kenny Golladay live up to lofty expectations? Will quarterback Daniel Jones take the leap or simply fall flat on his face? The Giants play hard and disciplined under Joe Judge, but that won’t nearly be enough.”
How Rams Did: Won 38-11
To answer those questions in order: No, No and No. Did I really say the Giants play hard and disciplined under Joe Judge? Sweet Jesus, WTF was I smoking? Maybe I was in a generous mood at the time I don’t know. A lot is uncertain about New York and nice to know that part I actually had right. The only thing I can say for certain is that the organization knows how to offer a quality fan appreciation deal. A free medium soda is a great deal, I think the fans are just plain ungrateful. Los Angeles had no trouble against the hapless Giants in this one except stopping Aaron Donald from sacking the concession stand worker when asking to upgrade to a large drink. “The ticket says a medium Mr. Donald now put that innocent worker down, they have a family!”
My Record: 3-3
Rams Record: 5-1
Week 7: vs Detroit Lions
“Seriously, if you can name at least one of their receivers without using Google, you might be a genius. Jared will do what he can to prove to the Rams that they made a huge mistake in trading him away. On the opposite sideline, Matthew Stafford will show his former organization what happens when you place a competent team around him. Goff will have a decent game against his old teammates but the Rams will win this one easily.”
How Rams Did: Won 28-19
Amon-Ra St. Brown
I named one, am I a genius yet? The Lions gave the Rams quite the run for their money so it wasn’t as easy as originally thought. They were extremely scrappy and Dan Campbell called practically every trick play in the playbook to no avail. Jared Goff played reasonably well but had two killer interceptions which ended up costing Detroit an upset bid. Stafford on the other hand showed the Lions what they were missing in a three-touchdown effort.
My Record: 4-3
Rams Record: 6-1
Week 8: at Houston Texans
“Do I really have to talk about this team? The Houston Texans are a dumpster fire which is insanely offensive to dumpster fires everywhere. Mark my words, this manure pile will be picking first in the 2022 NFL Draft. Because this game is played on Halloween, Houston will put up a spooky performance.”
How Rams Did: Won 38-22
Houston wasn’t the dumpster fire everyone including myself predicted. However, they were still sucky and will pick third in this year’s draft. I knew all along the Texans would never go winless because that’s always difficult to do in the NFL unless you’re Hue Jackson. Houston did put up a spooky performance on Halloween, falling behind 38-0 before scoring the final 22 points. Still, this game was not as close as the final score suggested.
My Record: 5-3
Rams Record: 7-1
Week 9: vs Tennessee Titans
“After playing two cupcakes, it’ll be nice to see a quality opponent. These Titans are legit as their offense is loaded with Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones...Maybe a bend but don’t break approach is wise in this case, and if this plan goes well, LA will win in a shootout.”
How Rams Did: Lost 28-16
Derrick Henry was unable to play in this game but that didn’t matter as Tennessee went up 21-3 at the half and never looked back. Their big lead compliments of a pair of back-to-back terrible decisions by Stafford that dug a hole for the Rams that they never recovered from. Maybe it was best that Henry didn’t play because who knows how bad this game would’ve gotten if he was in the lineup.
My Record: 5-4
Rams Record: 7-2
Week 10: at San Francisco 49ers
“With a healthier defense and strong play calling, San Fran will be a force to reckon with all year long. The series losing streak for the Rams will hit five.”
How Rams Did: Lost 31-10
This game marked the genesis of my belief that the Rams were a pretender. Heh, heh, remember that? Good times. At the time of this game, San Francisco was 4-5 and anything but a force. When Monday Night Football rolled around, they came out and played like what I had expected them to be, which was one of the stronger teams in the division. I pinpoint this game as the start of the Niners playoff push. Thanks a lot Rams, you could’ve kicked them off the Golden Gate Bridge while they were already down.
My Record: 6-4
Rams Record: 7-3
Week 12: at Green Bay Packers
“The Rams do have an asset at their disposal as Stafford has familiarity with the Pack since he played against them twice a year in Detroit. Los Angeles will give Green Bay a better game this time around but Rodgers and the Pack will prove too much yet again.”
How Rams Did: Lost 36-28
This game also got me believing that the Rams were nothing but a pretender and wasting the season. I was such a Debbie Downer, but LA went on a five-game winning streak following the publication of that article. If the Rams have anyone to thank for turning their season around, I should be at the top of their list given that my crap talking is what spoke their success into existence. Stafford was indeed very familiar with the Packers as he threw a pick-six just like his good ol’ days with the Lions. Much like the Divisional game from 2020, the Packers were too much to handle yet again, so I spoke that into existence as well.
My Record: 7-4
Rams Record: 7-4
Week 13: vs Jacksonville Jaguars
“The Jags will be introduced to the real Sacksonville as Lawrence will be running for his life the entire game. Urban Meyer will see how the pros really work and begin praying that another high-profile college job opens up after the season. The Rams put a dub back in the win column against another rebuilding trainwreck.”
How Rams Did: Won 37-7
How honored should the Rams feel in knowing that they played the Jaguars in Urban Meyer’s second-to-last game with the franchise? That’s cause for celebration. Anyone up for hitting the local bars to get some fried pickles and lap dances? Lawrence was living a nightmare in this matchup much as he had during the entirety of his rookie season. LA’s triplets of Kupp, Stafford and Michel had monster days and did more than enough to send Jacksonville home unhappy.
My Record: 8-4
Rams Record: 8-4
Week 14: at Arizona Cardinals
“At this point in the season, it’s possible that the Cardinals will be fighting for a playoff spot. There is clearly enough talent to make a run. However, they play in the NFC West which could potentially boost three playoff teams come January...Sean McVay has their number as he’s never lost to them. Arizona will make it tough throughout but McVay will march his record to 10-0 against the Redbirds after sweeping them for the fifth consecutive year.”
How Rams Did: Won 30-23
Arizona was fighting for their playoff lives in a way but primarily regarding their divisional standing. The Cardinals have more than enough talent to make a run that much was evident throughout the year. Kingsbury has a history of his teams collapsing as the season winds down so nothing about this win should’ve been shocking. The Rams were dealing with a COVID crisis and were very shorthanded going into this one. This loss wasn’t the first time the Redbirds lost to a limited opponent at home (*cough* their first loss to the Packers *cough*). Besides the win over the Bucs in week three, I also pegged this game as the most impressive collective effort by the team and Stafford as they were able to come together in the face of adversity and beat a tough division rival.
My Record: 9-4
Rams Record: 9-4
Week 15: vs Seattle Seahawks
“I believe this time around, LA will protect their home and win with the right arm of Stafford and the loving embrace of Leonard Floyd as he drags Wilson to the ground.”
How Rams Did: Won 20-10
Floyd gave Wilson a loving, manly embrace once in this game, as Cooper Kupp played the role as superhero as he had all season in scoring two touchdowns. This game wasn’t without controversy as the Seahawks complained about a pass interference no-call that ruined any chance of a comeback. It was pass interference but did the Hawks really think the Rams wouldn’t find a way to win? And Seattle, don’t act like you never benefit from poor calls that screw over the opponent. You do remember Fail Mary don’t you, because I do.
My Record: 10-4
Rams Record: 10-4
Week 16: at Minnesota Vikings
“I can see this being a trap game for the Rams. Minnesota has improved, don’t you know? First off, this is an odd-numbered year and the Vikings have made the playoffs in that pattern every odd-season under Head Coach Mike Zimmer. Can’t argue with that kind of logic.”
How Rams Did: Won 30-23
Minnesota wasn’t improved, especially in one-score games. The Vikings were a odd team this year and played most teams close. I liked their collection of offensive talent, particularly Jefferson, which is why I deemed this a trap game for LA. Stafford’s three interceptions caused this game to be closer than it should’ve been and if the Vikings could’ve executed any better they might’ve made my prediction come true.
My Record: 10-5
Rams Record: 11-4
Week 17: at Baltimore Ravens
“Of course, the Ravens are one of the best teams in the AFC and this will be quite a difficult setting to get even at. Los Angeles will do what they can to slow Jackson and their power running game but this will be a low-scoring game Baltimore steals late.”
How Rams Did: Won 20-19
Lamar Jackson didn’t play due to an ankle injury. Backup Tyler Huntley nearly ended LA’s five-game winning streak by providing a steady hand in Jackson’s absence. This was a low-scoring game in a challenging environment which saw the Ravens’ Justin Tucker kick four field goals. It was the Rams who ended up stealing this one late due to late game heroics by Stafford and OBJ on the final drive.
My Record: 10-6
Rams Record: 12-4
Week 18: vs San Francisco 49ers
“Depending on both teams’ standings in the playoff picture, this game might not matter to anyone...Most likely, LA will be using this game as a playoff tune-up early as they FINALLY end their losing streak to San Fran.”
How Rams Did: Lost 27-24
WOW, I got this one way wrong. Not only did I say this game might not matter, but I confidently predicted McVay and the Rams would end the losing streak to Shanahan and the 49ers. If this was a playoff tune-up for LA, I’d say they have a lot of things to work on before the postseason. One of which is for McVay to coach for the win instead of coaching not to lose on the final drive of regulation. I don’t understand how he was able to go 45-0 in his career when leading at halftime prior to this game because his play calling and clock management is sometimes quite spotty. He can afford to tell Stafford to cut down on the idiotic mistakes too. You can take the QB outta Detroit but you can’t take the Detroit outta the QB.
My Final Record: 10-7 (I think I missed out on the wild card due to the 49ers holding the tiebreaker over me in the last game.)
Rams Final Record: 12-5 (Clinched NFC West)
How did you fare in picking the Rams this season?