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Last Minute Thoughts: Are Rams primed to start a winning streak?

LA survived their brutal five-game opening stretch and are ready to make the NFC playoff race interesting

Philadelphia Eagles v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The 2023 season is a growth year for the Los Angeles Rams as they look to transition between contention windows. Fortunately, the 14-member rookie draft class has had their shining moments and the team has overall been more competitive than most expected from them this year.

The Rams are at a pivotal point in their season.

They survived a five-game gauntlet that featured four playoff teams from a year ago. Even the Indianapolis Colts—who are the lone exception to that statistic—seem frisky when talented rookie QB Anthony Richardson is on the field. It’s impressive that the Rams emerged 2-3 from a stretch in their schedule that featured the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Things don’t necessarily get easier in the upcoming games, mostly because there’s never “easy” victories in the NFL, but the Rams seem primed to go on a run and defy many of the expectations they had entering the season. This weekend’s matchup against the Arizona Cardinals represents an opportunity to move to 3-3 and reset. Afterwards, LA has a chance to put together a winning streak against a handful of middling teams:

Week 6: vs Cardinals

The Cardinals entered the 2023 season as the consensus pick to earn the first overall selection in next spring’s NFL Draft. But Arizona is playing themselves out of last place. While they own the Houston Texans’ first round pick next year, they are showing signs of a quick turnaround with rookie QB CJ Stroud.

The Cardinals have defied most expectations—that is true. However, I think the general public still overrates them based on how low the bar was set entering the year. The Rams should come out on top of this game easily, but they have to play clean football and win the turnover battle. They can’t afford to give Arizona edges at the margins.

Week 7: vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Tomlin’s squad is never an easy out, and they find ways to remain competitive even though their offense has been difficult to watch in recent years. TJ Watt will be a tough test for RT Rob Havenstein and has the ability to wreck offensive game plans and affect the outcome in impressive ways.

With all of that in mind, the Rams are actually the better team. Few would have agreed with that statement entering the season.

Week 8: at Dallas Cowboys

Who are the Cowboys? Five games into the season it still may not be clear. Dallas lost to the Cardinals and then weren’t even competitive against the San Francisco 49ers.

This one seems like a toss up to me, as both the Rams and Cowboys can run a little hold and cold.

Week 9: at Green Bay Packers

Jordan Love is one of the few quarterbacks that has been less accurate on a completion percentage basis than Matthew Stafford, and there’s a chance we see a lot of passes hit the turf in this game.

Still, the Packers have a talented defense that shows up in spurts. On offense they will try and wear you down with a physical running game and then scheme up opportunities for chunk plays. It seems like an approach that will find success early, but later in the season when they need their best players to step up they could have trouble.

The Rams have the better quarterback and skill position players, so they deserve the early edge here.

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: vs Seahawks

While the Rams handily defeated Seattle in Week 1, the margin of victory shouldn’t suggest that round two is easily in the bag for LA. The Seahawks haven’t lost since their opening defeat against the Rams, and you never know what will happen in divisional games.

Week 12: at Cardinals

If the Rams do indeed go on a winning steak, this game will be gasoline that gets thrown onto the fire to bolster the flames. If LA falls up short, this is becomes a very important matchup in terms of draft order—and that could be the difference between the Rams ending up in a range where they could select their quarterback of the future or if they are forced to add a building block elsewhere.