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[Playoffs 2022] Los Angeles Rams: stars to shine

Los Angeles Rams: 12 wins – 5 losses, 4th in the NFC

Eliminated in the conference semi-finals last season, hyperactive general manager Les Snead has done everything to build the most competitive team possible over the past few months. After the Matthew Stafford investment last spring, the already rich workforce saw the arrival during the season of Von Miller and Odell Beckham, just that.

The franchise has therefore logically invited itself into the race for the title. But this galaxy of stars, so attractive on paper, has not hovered over the season and is moving forward without certainty.

How did they get there?

To give themselves the means to aim for the title, the Rams did not do things by halves during the last offseason. Believing Jared Goff couldn’t get them higher, the franchise bet big on Matt Stafford. Having become a contender, the team honored its new status. Leaving with a 7-1 record after 8 weeks, Sean McVay’s men quickly got on the road to qualifying for the playoffs.

But after this idyllic first part of the season, the machine seized up. Three defeats in a row against other contenders and a quarterback who, despite always being productive, made more and more mistakes as the season progressed. Only 4 balls lost in the first 8 matches, 13 in the next 9. Taking advantage of a simpler schedule and teams in poor shape, that did not prevent them from finishing with five victories before losing in the final week and offering qualification to rival San Francisco. Champion of the highest division of the NFL, the Rams will find another rival in wild card. Cardinals who beat them at Sofi Stadium in week 4.

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The key player: Cooper Kupp (DL)

The workforce is full of stars and players capable of changing a game. But Cooper Kupp has taken a step forward in 2021. He has definitely established himself as one of the very best in his position and the leader and main engine of the Californian attack. Nearly 2000 yards on the season, the receiver is the leader in this area as well as the number of receptions and touchdowns. Only legends such as Jerry Rice or Sterling Sharpe had achieved such a feat.

He tortured his counterparts all season, and gave the impression of being indefensible whatever the opponent. His chemistry and his connection with Stafford will be the main asset of the attack.

Why are they going to go all the way?

Cooper Kupp, Matt Stafford, Odell Beckham on one side, Aaron Donald, Von Miller, Jalen Ramsey on the other. The Rams have a collection of playmakers on both sides of the ball. Players capable of changing a match on their own.

Complete team, the Rams have the 5th aerial attack, and have a defense that is both solid against the run (6th) but also capable of perforating the opposing pocket (3rd on the sacks). Major assets to turn a match in their favor.

Many players in the squad also have experience of the January games. An unfortunate Super Bowl finalist 3 seasons ago, the team also missed out last year.

Why won’t they go?

Stafford is surely talented, but he hasn’t shown anything in high stakes matches yet. Being a member of the Lions for 12 years, the pitcher did not really have the opportunity to have references in the playoffs. In marked decline since mid-December, he does not approach the decisive matches in the best conditions.

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To support him, he also does not have a dominant running game capable of taking the measure of a meeting. Facing Brady or Rodgers not being able to control possession and keeping them off the field could be a deal breaker.

Injured players

Relatively spared from injury, the Rams show up almost complete. The only absentee is receiver Robert Woods. Big engine of the attack and complementary with Kupp, his knee injury leaves a void in the system of Sean McVay. Odell Beckham, who arrived the day before his injury, has the talent to compensate for this absence. On the defensive line, Sebastian Joseph Day, injured in the pectorals, could perhaps find the grounds if his team advances in the table.

Deprived of their promising second-year runner Cam Akers throughout the regular season, the Rams should see him return for the playoffs. A reinforcement of choice to form a very attractive committee on paper.

Prognosis

Overarmed on all lines, the Rams could serve as the big favorite in the statement of names of players in the workforce. But yet the team has never released the strength and serenity of an asserted suitor.

The appointment against the Cardinals will be decisive to create a dynamic and hope to glimpse the Lombardi trophy at the end of the road. The Tampa and Green Bay collectives might still be a step too high.

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