If you had known two months ago that Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers would look pedestrian through the first seven games, that Dak Prescott would miss more than half of the season to this point, and that only two NFC teams outside of the East would have winning records right now, surely you would have assumed that the L.A. Rams were benefactors.
And that Matthew Stafford had good odds of being the best quarterback in the conference.
That hasn’t been the case.
How effective each team's passing and rushing offenses have been on early downs this year.— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) October 25, 2022
I knew things have been bad for the Rams this year, but wow pic.twitter.com/1yHEwyPlFd
As you can see in Ben Baldwin’s tweet for early down offensive efficiency, the L.A. Rams are on an island unto themselves. That’s not Bachelor in Paradise, its Castaway.
The Rams and Stafford have suffered through six games of being among the worst offenses in the NFL, ranking 29th in points per game, 31st in rushing yards, 31st in turnovers, and 23rd in net yards per pass attempt. Take out a 31-point performance against the Atlanta Falcons, with almost all of that production coming in one half, and L.A. is about as bad as the Baker Mayfield Panthers.
That’s bad. It would be even worse if the Rams weren’t coming off of a win against the P.J. Walker Panthers.
But the good news is that L.A. is coming off of that win and a bye week, getting healthier (but not healthy) near the midpoint of the season. The Rams could have Van Jefferson, Brian Allen, and Troy Hill back in time to face the San Francisco 49ers in Week 8 and a victory couldn’t come at a better time for L.A..
A loss couldn’t come at a worse time for either the Rams or 49ers.
At 3-3, the Rams are still only one win behind the Seattle Seahawks for first place in the NFC West. The 3-4 49ers have lost their last two games (allowing 72 points in the process) and are now tied in last place with the Arizona Cardinals. No matter what has happened in the rivalry in the past, here’s what’s on the table in Week 8 for these two franchises:
If the 49ers lose and fall to 3-5, they will be in last place and will take their first loss within the division after previously beating the Seahawks and Rams. They will be two games under .500 heading into their BYE week and likely need to win six of their last nine games to have any shot at the playoffs. The Rams will tie the season series 1-1 and that could be monumental in any tiebreak situation. The Christian McCaffrey trade would look even worse.
If the Rams win and improve to 4-3, they could be in first place in the NFC West if the Seahawks lose to the Giants this week. They will be 2-1 in the division and have tied up the season series with the 49ers. The Rams would have 10 games remaining and going 6-4 or better would make them at least 10-7, probably a lock to make the playoffs. Les Snead would feel even more empowered to make a big trade before next Tuesday’s deadline.
If the Rams lose to the 49ers this week though, the fallout could be disastrous.
If the Rams lose, they will drop to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the division. They will have been swept by the 49ers and lose any tiebreaker, which is even more important because the 49ers would still only be a half-game better at that point. A loss could put the Rams in last place, if the Cardinals beat the Vikings this week. The Rams would have 10 games remaining and would need at least a 6-4 record to finish above .500 and have any hopes at a wild card. The division would seem out of reach with anything less than a 7-3 finish.
If the 49ers win, they will be back at .500 with a 4-4 record headed into the BYE. They will be 3-0 in the division and maybe the odds-on favorite to win the NFC West because of that. The Jimmy Garoppolo-led 49ers would regain confidence after losing to the Falcons, Chiefs in the last two weeks, whereas a three-game losing streak could force Kyle Shanahan to consider Brock Purdy as his new starter. The 49ers need go 6-3 the rest of the way to finish 10-7. San Francisco would continue to feel like they own Sean McVay’s Rams.