Los Angeles, CA- It’s year two of the Sean McVay era in Los Angeles, and it’s the second year in a row the Rams have made it to the postseason. Los Angeles ended the season with a 13-3 record clinching the second seed in the NFC as well as a first round bye.
It had been tough sledding for the Rams from weeks 13-15. They dropped back to back games against the Bears and the +14 underdog Eagles, but LA was able to bounce back with two dominant wins over the division rival Cardinals and Niners, seizing much needed momentum heading into the postseason. The team had been without WR Cooper Kupp since week 12, and without Pro bowl RB Todd Gurley over the last two weeks, but received serviceable performances from newly signed CJ Anderson as well as former second round pick Josh Reynolds.
Since joining the team Anderson has been trusted with a huge workload of 47 touches. The veteran has turned that into 299 yards on the ground including a touchdown in each of the two contests, but most importantly he’s allowed Todd Gurley the chance to rest up going into the bye week and the postseason.
As I’ve mentioned before I feel like Josh Reynolds will be the biggest X factor for these Rams on offense. We saw a huge drop off in offensive output after the loss of Cooper Kupp. The is in part because teams started to not respect the play action pass, and focused most of the coverage on receivers Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks. If Reynolds can take advantage of single coverage underneath he could be a huge part in sustaining drives this postseason. In games without Kupp leading into week 16 Reynolds had averaged just three receptions for 30 yards per game with only two touchdowns during that time. Over the last two weeks however he’s racked up six catches for 99 yards and two scores, including two 3rd down conversions late in the first half this past week before the game against the Niners was blown wide open. Look for Reynolds to have more opportunity moving forward, especially when Gurley returns to the lineup.
Last year was the first playoff appearance for most of the Rams roster including Coach McVay and Jared Goff, and that seemed evident on the field as the Rams made many freshman like mistakes against the Atlanta Falcons. Former wide out Pharoh Cooper fumbled a punt return early in the first half. This accompanied with early drops, missed blocking assignments, and poor red zone efficiency lead to an early exit for LA. McVay has shown the ability to not just be a formidable coach in this league to be able to make adjustments when needed. We’ll see if this is the case when if comes to preparation for their second round matchup.
In the wildcard round this weekend in the NFC we have the Cowboys hosting the Seahawks and the Bears hosting the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles. If boths favorites win out the Rams will be hosting the best defense in the league in the Chicago Bears, a team that already hold a dominant win over them, although it was in Chicago. If both underdogs are to win then the Rams will take on the Seahawks who they already have two wins over. However, only 15 times since the year 1950 has a team beat another three times in the same season. The most recent was the 09’ Cowboys over the Eagles, so as you can see the Rams will have their work cut out for them either way. There aren’t any easy matchups in the postseason. Thankfully Goff and company are on a roll and appear to be heading into their next matchup on a high note. If you were to ask me, there’s going to be a big upset during wildcard week and the Rams will have Russell Wilson coming to town in two weeks time.