The Rams are for real, and other Week 12 thoughts

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Los Angeles has one hell of a football team on its hands.

The Rams, playing in front of tens of thousands of empty seats at the Coliseum, beat the Saints on Sunday to improve to 8-3 on the season — and to establish themselves as legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Yes, I just said “Rams” and “Super Bowl” in the same sentence. Los Angeles absolutely has that kind of team. These aren’t Jeff Fisher’s Rams.

It starts with quarterback Jared Goff, last year’s first overall draft pick who was absolutely awful as a rookie. This year, playing for new coach Sean McVay in a much better offensive system, Goff looks great. His 354 yards yesterday against a very good Saints pass defense represented maybe his best game to date. Over his last four games, Goff has 1,245 passing yards, nine touchdowns and one interception. This kid is good.

It helps that the Rams have three talented receivers in Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins, although yesterday against the Saints the Rams were playing without Woods, their No. 1 receiver, and they didn’t miss a beat. It also helps that the Rams have one of the NFL’s most talented running backs in Todd Gurley. And it helps that the Rams signed left tackle Andrew Whitworth this offseason, one of the most important free agent signings in the NFL this year.

But the Rams may actually be better on defense and special teams than they are on offense. McVay made a great move when he hired Wade Phillips as his defensive coordinator, and Phillips has done a superb job with the Rams’ defense this year. That defense is led by Aaron Donald, a defensive player of the year candidate. And the Rams’ special teams is led by one of the best kickoff returners in the league in Pharoh Cooper, one of the best kickers in the league in Greg Zuerlein, and one of the best punters in the league in Johnny Hekker.

So Los Angeles has one of the best teams in the league. The big question facing the NFL in its Los Angeles experiment is whether they can get SoCal to care. Last year, when the Rams first announced they would move from St. Louis, ticket sales were strong. But that interest faded because the Jeff Fisher Rams were a bad team with a boring offense. Now the Sean McVay Rams are a good team with a thrilling offense, but the fans aren’t back. It would be a shame if these Rams didn’t get the appreciation they deserve.

Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s game.

The Patriots dynasty keeps marching along. By winning their ninth game of the season on Sunday, the Patriots clinched their 17th consecutive winning record, the most for any franchise in NFL history. For the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Patriots to do that in this age of NFL parity is incredible.

Julio Jones is sensational. Jones had his third career 250-yard receiving game for the Falcons on Sunday. He’s the only player in NFL history who has more than one 250-yard receiving game. The last six 250-yard receiving games in the NFL have been by Julio Jones, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Josh Gordon and Calvin Johnson. Josh Gordon and Calvin Johnson being on that list shows how rare a 250-yard receiving game is.

John Fox looks done. The Bears’ 31-3 loss to the Eagles Sunday felt like it could be the loss that signaled the end of the John Fox era in Chicago. No one was expecting the Bears to win, but they don’t even look like a professional football team. They were thoroughly dominated on both sides of the ball. Everyone knew the Bears were a rebuilding team, but they should have shown more improvement in three years under Fox than they have shown. It’s just not working.

Mohamed Sanu is the king of small sample size passing stats. Sanu, the Falcons’ No. 2 receiver, didn’t match Jones’s sensational receiving stats, but he did make a great throw on a trick play for a 51-yard touchdown pass to Jones. Sanu has a great arm and has thrown six passes in his career, completing all six of them for 228 yards and three touchdowns, with a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Sanu also became just the second player in NFL history to have two games of 50 yards receiving and 50 yards passing. The first was Tom “The Bomb” Tracy of the 1950s and 1960s Steelers.

Nothing goes right for the Browns. Things are just miserable in Cleveland, where the Browns are now 0-11. Even when something appears to go right — DeShone Kizer made maybe the best throw of his young NFL career on Sunday — it goes wrong: Corey Coleman dropped that beautiful Kizer pass in the end zone. The ball went through Coleman’s hands, hit him in the chest right between the numbers, and fell to the ground. And not that it’s a big deal compared to all the Browns’ other draft mistakes, but Zane Gonzalez, the rookie kicker they drafted in the seventh round this year, is pretty terrible. Cleveland continues to be the worst franchise in the NFL.

Los Angeles may host two playoff games. I already talked about the Rams, but the Los Angeles Chargers are now just a game out of first place in the AFC West after the Chiefs lost on Sunday. And while I mentioned that the Rams are struggling to sell tickets, that’s nothing compared to the Chargers, who have virtually no fans at all in their new home. The Chargers play in a tiny 27,000-seat soccer stadium, and even there they can sell out only when several thousand fans of the road team take a trip to Los Angeles. It would be truly embarrassing for the NFL if both Los Angeles teams hosted playoff games and both teams failed to sell out their stadiums, but that might just happen in six weeks.

53 responses to “The Rams are for real, and other Week 12 thoughts

  1. Please, please, let’s have both the LA Rams and LA Chargers in the playoffs. Then maybe all the people constantly jabbering about how Los Angeles isn’t a good NFL city will shut up. Maybe the people who can never afford to get into the StubHub Center will quit complaining about playing football in a setting with great seats and sightlines. Most importantly, maybe the San Diego losers will quit complaining about “losing” a team that they voted to lose multiple times.

  2. As a Rams fan, it’s been such a long and painful wait. Things are finally looking up, but a few notes for further improvement: [1] Tavon Austin doesn’t belong on this team. McVay realized early on that Austin is nothing but a gadget player, but now that other teams know that too, his effectiveness has gone down to zero… or minus. [2] Hey John Fassel, your special teams are great… except for those nonstop block-in-the-back penalties which keep putting you back 10 yards. [3] Nobody else has noticed, but Johnny Hekker (best punter in the league) had not punted very well over the past five or six games prior to yesterday’s game.

  3. “For the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Patriots to do that in this age of NFL parity is incredible.”

    NFL PARITY???? Really??? Parity!!!

    13 0f the last 14, as well as 14 of the last 16 AFC teams were led by only 3 QBs (Ben 3, Brady 7, Peyton 4) from only 4 teams (PITT 3, NE 7, INDY 2 & DEN 2).
    That is far from parity.
    TB = GOAT… BB = GOAT… NFL Parity = BS sales pitch by the worst (Goodell).

  4. It’s actually nice to see a very good team play and beat other good teams unlike the iggles who feast on teams with 3 wins or less

  5. I get that the NFL needs the Los Angeles market, but when the Rams and Chargers both fail to even reach half capacity at their respective stadiums for their home games, at what point does it cost the NFL more to keep them in LA versus making any profit off them?

  6. Ratings are down and I see a lot of empty seats in stadiums around the NFL, not just in LA.

    Why don’t we stop obsessing over the people who aren’t showing up. There are still plenty of Rams fans following the team and we appreciate what’s going on just fine.

  7. This is referred to as the age of parity, but what we’re actually seeing, due to the recent rules changes to benefit QB’s, is the teams with the great QB’s have a huge advantage. They’re separating themselves. The Rams and Eagles are doing so well because they have superstar QB’s. The Vikings’ defense is so good, they’re the only exception, but Case Keenum is actually playing at a high level. Between Goff and Keenum, Jeff Fisher should get an award named after him that the Browns and 49ers are competing for.

  8. Three observations:

    1)Saints overated as they were easily beaten by the Vikings and the Rams.

    2)Rams are only getting better.

    3)Vikings serious threat for Super Bowl as shutting down Rams and holding them to seven points is no easy task.

  9. Assuming both LA teams win their divisions, the Rams will definitely have the tougher home game in the Playoffs against Atlanta, Carolina or Seattle. As for the Chargers, we’ve already seen what they can do against Buffalo, and Tennessee/Jacksonville doesn’t exactly make coaches lose sleep.

  10. Just give the tickets to veterans or kids and fill the stands. If they keep winning it will catch on but not with the empty stadiums optics.

  11. The Coliseum is being capped at 65,000 tickets sold. That’s basically only 2/3 of the seats being available. Every stadium looks empty like that. The Chargers situation is just sad

  12. Notice how they did not mention The Raiders? Instead they went with The Chargers. Like I said even when Raiders were on a losing streak, this is the same Raiders and they will eventually win the WEST this season and will take down the Patriots and end up winning the Superbowl. We seen this story before, a struggling team but a very talented team kind of limps into the playoffs and then the domination begins. Yu will see that with the RAIDERS

  13. “conormacleod says:
    November 27, 2017 at 8:53 am

    The Rams are one week out from being destroyed by the Vikings. They aren’t for real”

    I’m pretty sure they just beat a team that was on an 8 game win streak

  14. I feel bad for both trubinsky and kizer. I turned on the bears game for 2 quarters and saw at least 5 first down balls that fell Incomplete due to reciever error. Same thing with Kizer. It’s impossible for the guy to build confidence when his receivers plague him like that.

  15. cominupthrillho says:

    I’m pretty sure they just beat a team that was on an 8 game win streak
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    A team that was also soundly defeated by the Vikings.

  16. Rams and Eagles are both the 2016 Cowboys: Once the playoffs begin, they are “one & done!” tee-hee-hee

  17. The Rams are looking much improved this year. It was a tough loss last week at Minnesota, but the people saying they got rolled by the Vikings, obviously didn’t watch the game. A couple bad plays ended promising scoring drives, and the game was tied in the fourth quarter. I am not saying the Rams are better, but that was in no way a lopsided game. This was a great bounce back performance against a really tough opponent. I am really looking forward to the rematch with the Hawks, and the game against Philly. Time to see where we really are in the pecking order.

  18. I’ve been to the Coliseum twice this year. It’s a pretty bad fan experience and tickets are selling for 300 bucks a pop. You can get tickets to Hamilton for less than that. No mystery why fans are staying away. Too expensive and no place to park. In this case the games are much better on TV.

  19. There’s 2 narratives that the national media loves that are just so stupid: 1. The stadium is empty: It’s a 100 year old, 90,000 seat relic in a terrible area that is not at all fan friendly. There are a ton of Rams fan that don’t go to the games because it’s better to watch at home with all the other games. USC fills it with fans AND students (it’s on campus), and without a Red Zone channel competing with it. Look around at other stadiums in the league, and many are “empty” too. 2. Goff was “terrible” last year: He started 7 games with the worst offensive talent and staff in football and actually made some good plays and throws sometime. You could see talent. It’d be like harping on Aikman being “Awful” his first season, or Manning being “Terrible” last year. Look beyond the easy thing to write. He was 22 and getting his feet wet. It’s really annoying to people who watched every game last year and have some sense that “coaching matters”.

  20. @candianfan33…the vikings out gained the rams 451 to 254, outrushed them 171 to 45, held the ball 37:22 to 22:38 ect ect…the vikings dominated the game, after the rams first drive they punted on 8 of 9 drives with the 9th being a fumble…that was as lopsided game as ive seen being

  21. 81TinaKane says:

    November 27, 2017 at 10:32 am

    @candianfan33…the vikings out gained the rams 451 to 254, outrushed them 171 to 45, held the ball 37:22 to 22:38 ect ect…the vikings dominated the game, after the rams first drive they punted on 8 of 9 drives with the 9th being a fumble…that was as lopsided game as ive seen being

    And yet through all those amazing stats you just listed it was still 7-7 going into the 4th. Hmmmm….

  22. Trash or Smash says:
    November 27, 2017 at 9:07 am
    Notice how they did not mention The Raiders? Instead they went with The Chargers. Like I said even when Raiders were on a losing streak, this is the same Raiders and they will eventually win the WEST this season and will take down the Patriots and end up winning the Superbowl. We seen this story before, a struggling team but a very talented team kind of limps into the playoffs and then the domination begins. Yu will see that with the RAIDERS

    ———————–
    Trash or Smash? I”m callin trash. 🙂

  23. 1)Saints overated as they were easily beaten by the Vikings and the Rams.

    2)Rams are only getting better.

    3)Vikings serious threat for Super Bowl as shutting down Rams and holding them to seven points is no easy task.

  24. If the Rams are “for real”, hen the Vikings must be really really for real!
    And schmitty2, the score may have been 7-7 at end of 3, but you obviously didn’t watch the game!

    The Rams could do NOTHING offensively after their first drive.
    MN scored :45 into the 4th quarter, and LA couldn’t do a thing after that
    And LA went into that game UNDEFEATED on the road and the highest scoring team in the NFL!
    So yeah, you can glib all you want, the Vikings curb stomped the Rams that day & they are FOR REAL!

    And all you Aaron Rodgers lovers out there, stop whining that the NFC playoffs will be nothing without the Packers. Give me a break!
    Why is it the Vikings & other teams can win with a backup a QB, but Green Bay has mostly looked anemic?? Hmmmmmmmm

    I thought Mike McCarthy was such a great coach, and Ted Thompson was such a great GM and the Packers were loaded with talent on both sides of the ball???????
    1-5 without Rodgers!
    Pathetic

  25. schmitty2 says:
    November 27, 2017 at 10:53 am
    81TinaKane says:

    November 27, 2017 at 10:32 am

    @candianfan33…the vikings out gained the rams 451 to 254, outrushed them 171 to 45, held the ball 37:22 to 22:38 ect ect…the vikings dominated the game, after the rams first drive they punted on 8 of 9 drives with the 9th being a fumble…that was as lopsided game as ive seen being

    And yet through all those amazing stats you just listed it was still 7-7 going into the 4th. Hmmmm….

    ________

    Perhaps you should just check the final score.

  26. canadianfan33 says:
    November 27, 2017 at 9:57 am

    The Rams are looking much improved this year. It was a tough loss last week at Minnesota, but the people saying they got rolled by the Vikings, obviously didn’t watch the game.
    //////////////////////////
    I was at the game. After their first drive, the Rams gained 125 more yards the entire game (not including the final garbage yards drive that amounted to nothing). Yes, the score was tied 7-7 after 3 quarters. But, the Vikings had missed 2 FG’s and scored a TD on the opening play of the 4th quarter. The Vikings dominated that game, and could have won 30-7. At no time was I ever worried.

  27. The Rams aren’t even releasing these seats to be sold. I was considering going yesterday. Secondary market sites show $200+ for seats. No thanks. Then I watch on TV, in glorious HD, and see the stadium a quarter empty…… they don’t even want a full stadium. It’s all about putting the seats directly on their ticket exchange and maximizing profit. No thanks.

  28. Rams have played 3 teams with top 10 defenses. They are 1-2 in those games and scored a grand total of 17 points against the Vikings and Seahawks. They put up 13 offensive points against the Jags. If it wasn’t for the refs, they would have lost in week 3 to the 1-N-Teners. They are not for real.

  29. Things will start to shake out the next two weeks in the NFC, when the Saints, Vikes, Panthers and Falcons play each other, almost in round-robin fashion.

  30. Are the Saints any good outside of the dome? The Rams aren’t even tested. The Vikings are led by a throw away QB, and the Panthers have a Wildcat QB. It’s the Eagles and the Patriots.

  31. The Patriots run is one of the least impressive feats in my lifetime following sports.

    The League has been submarineing since 9/11.

    Congrats on beating the weak sisters of the poor.

  32. Just an FYI….. 17 seasons of winning was done by the Cleveland Browns…. Look it up… the longest streak is 21 seasons… Dallas

    I am a Patriots fan through and through…. I suffered seasons of 3 & 10 & 1… 2 & 12…3 & 11…2 & 14 ( twice)….

    But Give credit where it is due.. Dallas and Cleveland have done this in the past…

  33. I will start by saying I’m not a Vikings hater or a Packers fan by any means…but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a more insecure group of fans in my life than Vikings fans. You have a good defense for sure, Keenum is definitely impressive and there’s tons of young talent on that team that appears to have a very bright future. But you’ve never won a thing. And you’re only going to win the division because Rogers is hurt. Just because the writer talks about how well another team is playing doesn’t make it a slight against the Vikings.

    Talking about how great and unbeatable your team is doesn’t make it a fact. Pittsburgh stomped a mud hole in you earlier this season. Does that mean they are 20+ points better than the Vikings now? Who knows…but that’s why they play the games. There’s plenty of football left to be played by all the top teams jockeying for position. Just enjoy the ride…crazy stuff happens every year and this season will be no different.

  34. I love all the Vikings fans talking smack about their Rams victory. Nevermind that the game was 7-7 going into the 4th quarter. The Vikings got lucky with the Copper fumble at the one and lucky again with Rams CB’s injuries that had a 5th CB on the no. 1 receiver for their long touchdown.

    Yet they claimed they “blew out” the Rams. Boulderdash. No one is scared of the Vikings. I mean. Case Keenum. Nuff said. Vikings are a first playoff game lose waiting to happen.

  35. Actually, under Tom Landry the Dallas Cowboys had 20 consecutive winning seasons. They made the playoffs nine seasons in a row twice, and failed to make the playoffs in two seasons, despite having a winning record. That is the most in NFL history. The Patriots having 17 consecutive winning seasons is the most since the league switched to 16 games in a season. That is impressive, but Belichick needs 3 more winning seasons to match or break Landry’s record. It is the last of Landry’s records that Belichick as yet to match or break, having already surpassed him in playoff wins, conference championship appearances and wins, and of course Super Bowl wins. Belichick himself said that Landry was the greatest coach in NFL history, because of the innovations he brought to the game–the 4-3 defense (which created the middle linebacker position) and later the Flex (which no one else has even tried to run, except Nolan who gave up after one season), situational substitution, the man in motion, the revitalized shotgun, and the deep speed threat. And because of a coaching tree that produced several assistants who went on to become winning coaches–Nolan, Reeves, Ditka. Belichick also said he modeled his Patriots after Landry’s Cowboys, which is probably why he’s the winningest coach in modern NFL history. Meanwhile, after Landry, the Cowboys have only enjoyed a brief resurgence under Johnson and Switzer, then descended into perpetual mediocrity.

  36. I thought Mike McCarthy was such a great coach, and Ted Thompson was such a great GM and the Packers were loaded with talent on both sides of the ball???????
    1-5 without Rodgers!
    =====

    You’ve seen this movie before;

    2013, the Packers went 2-5-1 after Rodgers broke his collarbone.

    Why would anyone expect different results this time around?

  37. The crowd for Rams/Saints was sparse at best. Pretty bad sign when this was very clearly the match-up of the week even as far back as 2-3 weeks ago. This is why I don’t mind the whole “pump the breaks on Goodell’s extension” talk. Between the domestic violence stuff, the Brady and Zeke suspensions and now the L.A. market unsurprisingly showing no interest in either the Chargers or Rams….Roger should be sweating. Massive revenues can only keep the wolves at bay so long. My pipe-dream, never happening replacement commish nomination: Peyton Manning

  38. The big issue is that Rams tickets are so expensive. NFL tickets aren’t the same price everywhere. Comparing the Rams ticket sales to Cleveland Browns ticket sales, or Minnesota Vikings ticket sales is not an apples to apples comparison.

    For the Philly game – upper deck tickets are going for $200. Seats down by the field can cost over $1000. I can’t afford that. None of my friends can afford that. I think a lot of Rams fans are in a similar boat. We’d love to be at the games, but there’s just no way it fits into our budget.

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