The Los Angeles Rams won the NFC West last year, but now they have loaded up the hilt with Pro Bowlers. Are they the Super Bowl favorite this season?
Can you remember an offseason when a team added so many high-profile, in-their-prime players? Yeah, me neither. The Philadelphia Eagles and their “Dream Team” of 2011 is probably the correct answer, although even that group didn’t have this infusion of talent.
The Los Angeles Rams came out of nowhere to win the NFC West in head coach Sean McVay’s first season, going 10-6 (oddly enough, the same record as the Eagles before their free-agency binge in ’11). This offseason, many expected the Rams to retain Sammy Watkins and Lamarcus Joyner, and then build up the roster through the draft.
Instead, general manager Les Snead has gone for broke. He signed Joyner to the franchise tag, and then acquired cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib via trades with the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos, respectively. Next, Los Angeles signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to play alongside Aaron Donald, giving the Rams an absurd inside push.
On Tuesday, Snead pulled off his next blockbuster deal by acquiring wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the New England Patriots, sending first and fourth-round choices to Foxborough in return.
After the dizzying array of moves, the Rams seem poised to be the consensus Super Bowl favorites, but are they?
Cooks essentially replaces Sammy Watkins, who Los Angeles wanted to keep but lost to the Chiefs on a three-year, $48 million deal. Peters is the replacement for Trumaine Johnson, who left for more money with the New York Jets. Talib represents a significant upgrade on the other side, being reunited with Wade Phillips. Suh is also a straight upgrade, not replacing a significant, departing talent.
All told, Los Angeles should be viewed as one of the favorites, although putting it at the top is dicey. The Patriots — even sans Cooks — should remain in the catbird seat because the AFC is an atrocity compared to the NFC. Before the Cooks trade, New England was the best bet in Vegas at 5/1, while the Rams were third in their conference (fourth overall) at 12/1. Not a bad number to wager.
The Rams should have no trouble winning the NFC West, especially with the demolitions going on in Arizona and Seattle. However, getting through a gauntlet that includes the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers is still daunting, even with their considerable influx of talent.
Still, Rams fans should be incredibly anxious to get the 2018 season underway. The franchise hasn’t had this amount of starpower since the days of The Greatest Show on Turf, an iconic group that went to two Super Bowls and won one.