Sports

How Good are the Los Angeles Rams This Year?

Los Angeles Rams
The Rams once struggled but now they are the No. 1 ranked team in the AP Pro32 power ranking. Tonight's it's the Rams vs. Vikings in NFL Thursday Night action. USA Today Sports via Reuters

The Rams are bringing football energy back to Los Angeles, with a 2018 team that’s off to a high-flying start amid Super Bowl expectations. But football fans in the Los Angeles area know better than setting hopes too high. Consider that when the Rams franchise reached the Super Bowl in 1999, the team was based in St. Louis.

But the Rams are back in Los Angeles where they began, and early in the 2018 season are atop the AP’s Pro32 power ranking at No. 1 with a 3-0 record. Could the Los Angeles Rams truly be the best team in the NFL this year?

Oddsmakers think the Rams are good, but before the season New England and Philadelphia were the favorites to win this season’s Super Bowl. The Rams were closed behind in third place, however, getting more betting respect that the Steelers and Vikings.

With quarterback Jared Goff, it’s so far so good. Consider that in week 3 the Rams beat nearby rival the Los Angeles Chargers 35-23 behind Goff’s 354 yards and three touchdowns passing. It’s just the Rams third season back in LA after the franchise moved away for 21 years but already the city is getting behind its team of promise. Most of last week’s crowd of more than 68,000 pulled for the Rams against the Chargers and

Tonight, the Rams face the Minnesota Vikings at home in NFL Thursday night week 4 action. The game starts at 8:20 p.m. ET and is televised on Fox and the NFL Network. They are favored by a touchdown, but this will be a good test of the team’s strength considering the Vikings (1-1-1) are widely seen as playoff contenders in 2018 and because the Rams have some key injuries to overcome.

The Rams have a strong defense to go with a productive offense, but former Pro Bowl cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters both got injured in week's win over the Chargers, adding some question to the team’s overall strength. Talib will be out for eight weeks. Peters’ injury isn’t as serious but he may not play against the Vikings, meaning backup cornerbacks Sam Shields, Troy Hill and Nickell Robey-Coleman will have to step up.

"I feel like we're going to be great," Robey-Coleman said, according to the AP. "I can't take away from the hard work that every guy on this depth chart put in to get an opportunity to get.”

Last year’s Rams vs. Vikings matchup was a big loss for Los Angeles, an offensive shutdown that resulted in a 24-7 Minnesota win.

"We didn't run the ball as well as we had in other games against this defense," said Aaron Kromer, the Rams' running game coordinator., according to the AP. "They're a stout defense. They're built to stop the run. That's their No. 1 goal. ... We have to do a much better job. I think we're a lot smarter football team than we were in the past, so I hope that shows on Thursday night."

The 2018 Rams benefit from head coach Sean McVay, who became the youngest coach in NFL history last offseason, then lead the historically-struggling franchise to an NFC West title.  This year, the team beefed up, making no secret of its plan to go for a Super Bowl win.

"That much was clear this offseason, when general manager Les Snead swung three trades for All-Pro players and then signed another All-Pro in free agency," reported Athlon in its NFL preview. "The flurry of huge moves was a signal to the rest of the league: The Rams are going for it.

"In the midst of one of the most profound turnarounds in NFL history, L.A. sure looks like a legitimate contender," Athlon reported. "Will its wunderkind coach continue to build on the insane success of his first season? Or could the Rams’ Super Bowl push be for naught? One thing is certain: All eyes will be on Los Angeles this season."

So far so good for the Rams, off to a 3-0 start with victories over the Raiders, Cardinals and Chargers.

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