The Los Angeles Rams came up short to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, but as far as losses go, it might have been the most encouraging performance since the team was 3-6. The Rams avoided a humbling blowout and nearly upset arguably the best team in football.
However, while the team’s resurgence is encouraging, their performance over the last month could doom the team if they let it.
Rams vs Commanders: Trap Game Alert
To quote Bane from the Dark Knight Rises, the Rams are in danger of letting victory defeat them. While they are 3-1 and have been playing winning football for a while, the overall record still sits below .500 and the Rams are currently on the outside looking in the NFC playoff window. Looking ahead at the schedule, there is a real chance of a 3-1 run down the stretch. The easiest part of the remaining schedule comes next with the 4-9 Washington Commanders.
It will be up to Sean McVay to keep the Rams hungry and focused. After such a difficult run and with an easier opponent on deck, the temptation for players might be to count the Commanders as a win before the first snap. Teams with that kind of mentality often find themselves in for a rude awakening. Exhibits A and B were on Monday Night Football this week when the Tommy DeVito-led New York Giants upset the Green Bay Packers and the Miami Dolphins also suffered a humbling defeat to the current 15th-seed Tennessee Titans.
Upsets can and will happen in the National Football League for those unprepared. It will fall on Sean McVay’s shoulders to invent intensity. With the game in SoFi Stadium, the temptation to relax will be even stronger. Losing against the Ravens might help keep players sharp, but it will fall on the head coach to set the culture for the week.
If the Rams play as well as last week, they will be able to coast in the fourth quarter. However, if they coast during the week instead, they could easily find themselves chasing Sam Howell at the end of the game, which could exhaust them heading into the Thursday Night Football showdown against the New Orleans Saints four days later. Sean McVay can’t win the season in the next calendar week, but it can be lost.