Saying the Rams have had a rough start to the season would be an understatement. Although they are 2-2, the offense has struggled and has become one-dimensional. It’s Cooper Kupp or bust and let the defense bail ‘em out if they can. Now the Dallas Cowboys are visiting in Week 5, bringing one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Coming off last season’s Super Bowl win, the Rams were viewed by many as a lock to make it back to the big game and bring the Lombardi trophy to Los Angeles for the second year in a row. That’s never an easy feat. In fact, the last team to do so was the New England Patriots capping off the 2003 and 2004 campaigns.
Believe it or not, there are some similarities between the ’22 Rams and the ’03 Patriots. New England also started off 2-2, although they weren’t defending champs then. But they began 2-2 and did it the same way as the Rams this year. New England got spanked in the season opener by the Bills 31-0, like the Rams, got smacked by Buffalo 31-10 in their opening game. Both teams then won two straight and lost their fourth game.
Week 5 is where the Patriots took off in ’03, as they didn’t lose another regular season game, ending the season 14-2. Of course, the Pats would go on to win their second Super Bowl in three years. If the Rams hope to follow that same path, their season reset must start this week against the Cowboys. Dallas gets after the quarterback better than just about any other team in the league. Only the Broncos and Eagles are ahead of them in sacks.
There’s been speculation since the offseason about Odell Beckham Jr. coming back to LA and the Rams saving a locker for him, but they need more than just OBJ to return. Once healthy, he would likely be huge for them, but if that offensive line can’t get it together, OBJ won’t matter.
This Rams offensive line has given up 16 sacks through four games which ties them for third most coming into Week 5. They’ve also given up the second-most sack yards at 113. No QB wants pressure and guys in their face all game, but some do find a way to thrive in chaos. Matthew Stafford has been pretty good under pressure this year, but that was not the case against the 49ers last week. The Niners dropped Stafford for seven sacks and pressured him 23 times in Week 4.
San Francisco has a fierce defense, and they took Stafford to the woodshed all game. The Niners and Cowboys are the only teams that haven’t given up 20 points in a game coming into Week 5. Luck has not been on the Rams’ side, drawing these defenses in back-to-back weeks. When you’re the defending champs, that target on your back is enormous. Everybody wants to make an example out of you and showcase their talent.
Luckily for the Rams, the NFC isn’t stacked with as many good teams as the AFC. So even if they struggle most of the year, they should at least be able to snag a wildcard spot. Just get in, and from there, anything can happen. The one-game playoff scenario is what makes the NFL postseason and March Madness must-see TV. Favorites can fall unexpectedly at any time. Just ask Tom Brady and the New England Patriots about their first championship.