• Joey Aucoin

How the Los Angeles Rams Win the NFC in 2020

How do LA Rams fans know that their favorite team is in a stacked division? When the LA Rams are #11 in a power ranking for ESPN and they're still behind two other teams in the NFC West - the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers.

Without being the favorite by the gamblers and the prognosticators, the LA Rams can still make it to the Super Bowl. Crazier things have happened. And 2020 is officially the year of crazier things.

So many scenarios could play out this season that aren't exactly crazy by any stretch of the imagination. That's the thing. We've spent all summer guessing about the improvement or decline or every NFL team. Now it's time for fate to jump in and screw things up. What team will inevitably disappoint its fans? The Browns again? Tampa Bay is really going to work with what is essentially the target demo for CBS? And speaking of old, are we still penciling in Drew Brees and the Saints for the postseason? Will the Lions live up to its trendy pick and actually win some games?

A lot of X-factors are in play and we just need to let it play out. That's the beauty of the NFL and without a preseason this year, the future is extra hazy.

Here are the X-factors that could decide the season as I see them for the Los Angeles Rams:

The rookies for the Rams, RB Cam Akers and WR Van Jefferson, contribute immediately.

Much has been said about the departures for the Rams, most notably WR Brandin Cooks and RB Todd Gurley II. It's unfair to suggest that Akers and Jefferson will be expected to fill in for Cooks and Gurley. There's a whole new eco-system for offense - an ever-adjusting hierarchy that could very well bring these second-round picks into the fold sooner than later.

Defensive Coordinator Brandon Staley provides a major spark to the defense that gels with Coach McVay's coaching style.

Staley is 37-years-old and the narrative with him is obviously connected to the youthful reputation of Caoch Sean McVay. A defensive guru who is on the NFL fast track to an eventual head coaching job, Staley could provide some much needed reinvention for the middle-of-the-pack defense in 2019. The Rams have a lot of talent at safety, especially S Jordan Fuller's strong showing at training camp and that depth could be used to address the lack of experience at the inside linebacker position. Again, this is all conjecture because we haven't seen it in action, but Staley is a smart guy with a lot to prove and there's a lot of raw talent on that roster that just needs the right guidance from the coaching staff. Staley could very well be the right DC for this Rams squad.

Austin Blythe succeeds at center where Brian Allen couldn't.

Part of the frustration with the Rams offense last year was the failure of the Brian Allen/Joseph Noteboom experiment with the offensive line. That's not to say that they won't be valuable contributors for the team, but last year wasn't a success, especially for Allen. Once Blythe, a 7th round pick in 2016 by the Colts, stepped in, the offensive line play improved. Again, not to knock Allen, but the chemistry wasn't right and Aaron Kromer pulled the plug on the idea that Brian Allen will be the future of the center position for the Rams. it just feels like the team has decided that Austin Blythe is the man that will be snapping the ball to Jared Goff and I predict this will be a positive thing moving forward.

Everything can't go right in the NFC West.

Shit goes down. Every season. The Super Bowl hangover is real. Hell, the Rams basically had one last year even though they won 9 games. Even without a major injury or a team scandal. a team like the 49ers could take a step back for thousands of reasons. There's a lot of talent in this division, but someone needs to fuck up their potential and it doesn't have to be the Rams. The Niners could win 14 games, but they could also get weird and win 6 games, you don't know. Crazier things.

The LA Rams can only control what they can control and Sean McVay seems to have a pretty healthy handle on that. I have confidence that McVay is going to have these guys ready to take control of their destiny.

The LA Rams are going to be playing several very winnable games.

There's four games in which the LA Rams are playing teams that, by my opinion, are very beatable: the New York Giants, the Miami Dolphins, the New York Jets, and the Washington Football Team. And if the Rams want to do any damage in the playoffs, they will have to beat good teams, which is what they need to do tonight on Sunday Night Football -- they have to beat the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs, so they should start now.

However, if the Rams do lose to the Cowboys in week 1, they will still have a chance to get their bearings with softer competition in week 2 with the perpetually banged-up Philadelphia Eagles and the Giants in week 4. Point being, the Rams will have several opportunities to get their confidence up before they start playing

their division games later in the season.

All sorts of things could happen this season. Jared Goff could get eaten by a shark. Gerald Everett could lead all tight ends in touchdown passes. Troy Hill could get eaten by a shark. Again, crazier things.

I hope this season is a blast and fills every Rams fan with joy. Hell, we need all the joy we can get.

So, as we wait for kickoff to begin, let's remember that anything can happen and that's why this game is so damn fun.