MJ Hurley | May 22nd, 2020
After dominating the NFC West division in 2017 and 2018, the Los Angeles Rams took a step back in 2019 with a 9-7 record, finishing third in the division. Although the Rams lost in disappointing fashion to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, they had high hopes for 2019 and beyond. Unfortunately, those hopes spiraled into a lackluster offense and a dysfunctional defense. After letting fan favorites Clay Matthews III and Todd Gurley walk in free agency, the Rams look to re-tool and reload for a return to the top of the NFC West. With this in mind, let’s check out five bold predictions for the Rams in the 2020 NFL Season.
Make sure to check out all of our other team bold predictions here.
The Rams will get swept by Arizona Cardinals in 2020
One of the Rams’ best qualities during their Super Bowl run in 2018 was their speed on defense. Veteran Matthews and younger stars Dante Fowler Jr. and Cory Littleton led the Rams defense. With Matthews being released and Fowler Jr. and Littleton signing elsewhere, the Rams defense lacks proven speed defenders, specifically for the run and short passing game. With the emergence of Kenyan Drake in Arizona and the new duo of Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins in the desert, the Rams will have a particularly hard time handling the Arizona offense. The same way that Russell Wilson and his scrambling abilities have killed the Rams for years, expect Kyler Murray and the revamped Arizona offense to give the Rams fits in 2020.
Sam Sloman will ensure the Rams do not miss Greg Zuerlein
After Zuerlein left for the Dallas Cowboys, the kicking situation in Los Angeles looked slim. Well, the Rams drafted Sloman in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft, 248th overall. Sloman was extremely efficient at Miami (OH), hitting 34 of 34 PAT’s in 2019, as well as going 26 for 30 overall and being named Second Team All-American by the Athletic. Sloman proved that he has the ability to hit kicks in pressure situations, and is an effective kickoff specialist as well. Although losing a top 10 kicker like Zuerlein is never ideal, with their last pick of the draft the Rams were able to secure a solid kicker who will take over the kicking duties from Zuerlein immediately.
Jared Goff will again be a below-average quarterback
While I hate to admit it, Goff was not a good quarterback last season and overall has not been a terrific quarterback, despite the size of his salary. Among qualified quarterbacks last season, Goff was 27th in QBR at 86.5, threw 16 interceptions which were good for fourth-most in the NFL, and was 26th among qualified quarterbacks in completion percentage with a 62.9%.
Although some of the blame for the Rams lackluster offensive showing in 2019 can be placed on Todd Gurley and the lack of a real running game, some of the blame lands on Goff as well. Goff was a top 10 quarterback in 2018. He threw for 4,688 yards, 32 TDs, and had a QBR of 101.1. Those numbers were key to the Rams making an extended playoff run. With not many dynamic weapons left in Los Angeles, look for Goff to remain a below-average quarterback, something that will hurt the Rams.
The Rams will miss the playoffs for the second straight season
Honestly, I could see the Rams going 9-7 and being third or even fourth in the NFC West. That division is stacked this season. Not only will the 49ers return with almost the same starting 22, but Seattle is always going to contend as long as Wilson is under center. Add the Murray and Hopkins dimension in Arizona, and the NFC West is all of a sudden a very crowded scene.
I can realistically see the entire NFC West going at least 9-7. I have the Seahawks around 11-5, 49ers at 10-6, and the Cardinals and Rams at 9-7. Add on my prediction of the Cardinals sweeping the Rams and Los Angeles will end up on the outside looking in on the playoffs and last in the NFC West. Because of how close this division is, any team could pull off a close win that shakes the makeup of the entire NFC West, but for now, I do not see a scenario where the Rams make it to the playoffs, even with the expanded seven team format.
Jalen Ramsey will return to being a top-five cornerback
Last season was rough for Jalen Ramsey, and that is putting it nicely. Ramsey went from a 54% completion percentage against him in 2018 to an abysmal 66.2% in 2019. Yes, Ramsey battled injury issues in 2019 and did not do well with his short time in Jacksonville to begin the season. However, once Ramsey arrived in Los Angeles, he looked more like himself but still was not the lockdown trash-talking corner the NFL was accustomed to seeing on the field. With a full offseason to heal and a fresh start and full season ahead of him in LA, look for Ramsey to return to form and lead the Rams defensive unit while snagging at least three interceptions in 2020.
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