Reason No. 1: Don’t Crown the Los Angeles Rams Yet
Andy Benoit tabbed two teams to finish ahead of the Seahawks this season — the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams.
The Niners may be close, but more than a few accounts suggest head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad is at least another year away. Benoit’s included. Therefore, with the Arizona Cardinals in rebuild mode, the only legitimate threat to challenge a possible Seahawks divisional run is L.A.
The Rams stole the divisional crown from Seattle last season, thanks largely to then first-year head coach Sean McVay, who prevented quarterback Jared Goff from descending further into “bust” status, propelled running back Todd Gurley to MVP-like levels and rode that offensive momentum to the top of the NFC West with an 11-5 record.
Sounds great for Los Angeles, right? And after a slew of offseason powerhouse moves — such as grabbing wide receiver Brandin Cooks and bringing in defenders Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib — the Rams appear to be about the closest thing to a “Super Team” we’ve seen in the NFL for quite some time.
But history proves otherwise.
Super Teams rarely flourish in the NFL, especially during the modern salary-cap era. The 2000 Washington Redskins were one such example. So were the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams were dubbed a “Super Team,” in one way or another, and both ended up finishing with 8-8 records those seasons. Far from the likes of a conference powerhouse.
Mark Maske of the Washington Post described the challenges:
The potential upside is that Cooks gives Goff a game-breaking receiver to make the offense even better, Suh teams with Donald to form an impossible-to-block middle of the defensive line, and Peters and Talib smother opposing receivers to the point that Phillips can dial up anything he wants on defense. That could be a Super Bowl-winning formula.
But McVay and Phillips now face the considerable task of making it all work, of keeping all the personalities and egos in check to form a cohesive and fully functional team. If the Rams fail, it could be a spectacular failure indeed.
Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman’s July 2018 article sheds even more light on the subject.
It’s important to understand the context the Seahawks find themselves in this season. Sure, the Rams are the team to beat on paper. Yet so were those Redskins and Eagles.
Therefore, envision a scenario in which the Rams also finish 8-8 this season. And if the Niners are a year away from serious playoff contention, all one has to consider is how much more wide open the NFC West truly is than initially thought.
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