Rams are trending upward

It might provide for great debate, but the Los Angeles Rams appear to be playing their best football this season. The Rams were on a three-game win streak before Sean McVay’s team played the vaunted Baltimore Ravens, the team with the best record in the AFC.

That didn’t impress the Rams too much because they went toe-to-toe with the Ravens. Overtime is where the Rams blinked. The Ravens only became victorious when Tylan Wallace outran the coverage and returned a punt 76 yards for the go-ahead score to help the Ravens beat the Rams, 37-31.

Outside of this misstep, the Rams were in this game to win it. Are we surprised? Anyone who has watched a Sean McVay-coached football team knows his teams are going to bring it, regardless of record. Quarterback Matthew Stafford diced up Baltimore’s defense for nearly 300 yards (294 yards) and three touchdowns.

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Demarcus Robinson goes up to make the catch against the defense of the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 10, 2023. Robinson finished the game with three receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens. Baltimore defeated the Rams in overtime, 37-31. Photo credit: Los Angeles Rams

Aside from his play against the Ravens, Stafford has been on point the last several weeks with his passing and leadership. McVay said Stafford is playing at the level he expects him to.

“Yeah, he’s played like Matthew. He’s a great player and you can see he’s feeling healthy,” McVay said. “I think he’s doing a great job of distributing the football. Guys are competing hard around him and for him and he has got great command of what he’s seeing.

“These have definitely been two of the upper-echelon defenses. I think he’s played really well when you look at the fourth quarter in Seattle and then the last 12 quarters when you combine Arizona, Cleveland, and yesterday against Baltimore. He’s given us a chance to play really well on the offensive side of the football and when he’s doing that good things happen.”

Baltimore didn’t have any answers on how to stop running back Kyren Williams, who rushed for 114 yards. The Rams gave the No. 2 rated defense everything it could handle. Cooper Kupp‘s magic returned with the veteran wide receiver snagging 8 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.

If Kupp looked like his old self against Baltimore it’s because he is healthy, McVay said.

“I think he’s feeling healthier. I think that’s a big deal,” McVay quipped. “I think he’s such a tough competitor that he would never complain or say anything, but his game is predicated on twitch strength, contact balance, doing a lot of those different things. The healthier and the more comfortable that you get after you had been away from the game for a long period of time. I think that he had some more opportunities yesterday, but I did think that that was a game that… I think he’s taken steps the last couple weeks.”

There may not be such a thing as a good loss, but the way the Rams played Baltimore is on par with how Los Angeles played in their previous three games. After losing six of their first nine games, the Rams went on a mini-win streak. During that time, the Rams rolled off wins against Seattle, Arizona, and Cleveland.

The downhill running of Williams has been a welcomed component back to the Rams offense. After missing a month of playing because of an ankle injury, Williams has turned it loose in the last few games. In two of the three games that he has played since has returned, Williams has rushed for 100 yards or more.

Williams rushed for 143 yards in the Rams’ 37-14 win against Arizona. He followed up the performance with an 88-yard, one-score afternoon in LA’s 36-19 against Cleveland. He continued his stellar play with another 100-yard plus effort on the road against Baltimore.

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) is healthier and providing an offensive spark to the team Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

The Rams are the one team that no one wants to face now or in the postseason, which is still a ways off. However, if the way the Rams are playing offensively and defensively, it would not be a surprise if the Rams upset the applecart of who is supposed to be playing in the postseason.

They have a masterful architect in McVay. Stafford is the veteran sharpshooter. Kupp and Nacua provide dealing threats at the wide receiver position. And then there is Williams, who is the team’s unofficial hammer when it comes to running the football.

On the other side of the football, Aaron Donald is always going to play unleashed. Linebacker Enerst Jones provides consistency. At this time of the year, a team that can run the football, has a quarterback who plays with a lot of moxie, and is equipped with playmakers on the outside, can be really tough to defend.

I may be getting ahead of myself, but if they are clicking on all cylinders, no team in the NFC, including the San Francisco 49ers, wants to play the Rams. The Baltimore loss notwithstanding, the Rams are peaking at the right time with the opportunity to run the table on the games remaining on their schedule. If they do, the floodgates are going to be wide open.

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