The Los Angeles Rams were the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl a month ago. Suddenly, things are falling apart for Sean McVay and Co.
Los Angeles won 11 of its first 12 games. The Rams looked like a juggernaut tuning up for the postseason.
Then they went to Chicago. Things have gone sideways since.
The Rams were emasculated to the tune of air raid sirens at Soldier Field, managing only two more points than Jared Goff interceptions. It was a tough defeat but an understandable one. The Rams are California sunshine. Sunshine doesn’t have any place in a Chicago winter.
It was widely assumed that Los Angeles would get back on track at home against the struggling Philadelphia Eagles. Carson Wentz was ruled out with a broken vertebrae in his back. The betting line swelled past 13 points. The Rams were bet to oblivion.
Then the game started. Thud went the finesse team for a second consecutive week.
It’s one thing for the Rams — or any team — to lose a few straight. It’s another to be physically dominated. Los Angeles has looked overwhelmed at the point of attack against Chicago and Philadelphia. Goff has looked scared behind a suddenly submissive offensive line.
In Chicago, Goff was hit eight times, sacked thrice and threw four interceptions. The enduring image was Goff, hands in warmer, waiting until the last instance prior to the snap for them to emerge. It was a significant tell for the Chicago pass rush.
Against Philadelphia, there was no such tip. The weather was perfect but Goff and his line was anything but. The Eagles racked up seven quarterback hits and another sack while picking off two passes.
While some will point to the defense on Sunday night, there’s little point. Much like the Saints and Chiefs, the Rams are going as far as their offense takes them. In today’s NFL, defense can only get you so far. In Los Angeles’ case, it’s Aaron Donald and a bevy of overpaid names, many of which getting one final payday. The effort has been there, but the production has decidedly not followed.
Ultimately, Los Angeles will earn a first-round bye. With the 49ers and Cardinals remaining on the schedule, they’ll be 13-3 and home for the Wild Card round. Then the Rams will host the Bears or Cowboys. Maybe the Seahawks or Eagles even show up for a rematch. All four are physical defensively, the apparent kryptonite for a team that appeared invincible for the first two months of the year.
The Rams remain an elite team, but they have to be hearing footsteps. Much like Goff.