That the Los Angeles Rams were among the early favorites entering this season to win the Super Bowl. What once looked like a lock, however, now seems less of a given. At the DraftKings Sportsbook, Los Angeles is drawing the fifth-best odds at +750 to hoist the Lombardi at Super Bowl LVI next month at SoFi Stadium.
For the fourth time in five seasons under Sean McVay, the Rams are in the postseason. Only one of the previous three trips, however, reached the Super Bowl. The 2018 NFC Champions banner already feels distant. Midseason moves to acquire Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller only highlighted the fact that the Rams need to win, and they need to win now. How can they claim the title of “World Champions”? It comes down to three major factors.
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1) Don’t Use Matthew Stafford Too Much
There’s a lot riding on the team’s investment in Stafford, and his struggles down the stretch raised red flags. Fans and analysts alike wonder if he was worth the trade of Jared Goff and LA’s next two years of first-round picks to acquire him. He threw 13 interceptions in the last eight games of this season. That total ties for the sixth-most in a season in his career.
Updated NFL Futures 🏈
+350: Green Bay Packers
+380: Kansas City Chiefs
+500: Buffalo Bills
+550: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
+750: Los Angeles Rams
+850: Tennessee Titans
+1000: San Francisco 49ers
+1500: Cincinnati Bengals pic.twitter.com/TMH1hL5DlO
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) January 19, 2022
The win over the Arizona Cardinals on Wild Card Weekend was exactly how the team needs to play. Cam Akers and Sony Michel combined for a consistent running presence that helped the Rams eat the clock with the lead. The two running backs had 30 combined rushing attempts compared to just 17 passing attempts for Stafford. New to Tinseltown, the 13th-year quarterback needs to play the supporting role of his career. If he does, it could be a smash hit at the box office.
Stafford has the fifth-best odds to win MVP of SuperBowl LVI at +900 at the DraftKings Sportsbook at the time of this article.
2) Force the Turnover Issue
The Rams were 3-4 when they lost the turnover battle this season but easily could’ve been 2-5. In their win against the Baltimore Ravens, Stafford tossed a pick-six in the first quarter. From there, Los Angeles trailed for nearly the entire game. The Rams didn’t lead until they took the lead with less than a minute left in the game to escape with the win. In the other two games they lost in the turnover column, Los Angeles was fortunate enough to play the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears.
In the playoffs, the team isn’t going to be gifted turnover opportunities like they were against the Cardinals. On the NFC side of the bracket, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are still in the mix. They don’t average an interception per game between them. The San Francisco 49ers’ ability to dominate the clock and the creativity of Kyle Shanahan is a bad match. That’s evidenced by the Rams losing the season series 0-2. As mentioned above, Stafford is a liability to turn the ball over. Los Angeles needs to find a way to overcome that potential reality. It’s either that or the defense needs to be fortunate to generate turnover opportunities.
3) Learn From the Past
Against teams still alive in the NFL playoffs that they’ve already played this season, the Rams have just one victory. That win came against the Buccaneers back in Week 3 in a thrilling shootout between Stafford and Brady. Tampa Bay’s inability to get a field goal before halftime, let alone a touchdown, doomed the Buccaneers in the possession battle. Outside of that game, Los Angeles lost twice to the 49ers. They also lost once each to the Tennessee Titans and the Green Bay Packers.
Unity. Passion. Heart. It takes everyone to make a deep run in the playoffs.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 21, 2022
Just to make it out of the NFC would mean that the Rams need a reverse of fortune against their next two opponents than they had in the regular season. The last time that Sean McVay had to face a non-divisional opponent for the second time in a season was in the 2018 NFC Conference Championship Game when the Rams faced the New Orleans Saints for the second time that season. The Saints won the first matchup that season, and history says the Rams won that game. It’s a result that will forever be debated, as it all came down to a controversial defensive pass interference call. With this, it remains to be seen how well McVay prepares for opponents the second time around.