The Los Angeles Rams are nearing the end of their celebratory period as the team’s summer training camp approaches. Of course, most players would argue their celebratory period ended quite a while ago. However, this is when the rubber meets the road.
When players arrive on July 29th, every accomplishment from 2021 will be rendered effectively moot and the team will be reset to the level of everyone else in the NFL and in the NFC West. Where do the Rams rank in comparison to everyone else in the division? Here’s a look at the state of the division and a look at where the Rams fit in it.
NFC West Power Rankings
1) Los Angeles Rams
The Rams fit at the top of the division. Just months removed from a Super Bowl victory, and nearly fully intact, one could argue the team is also at the top of the NFC rankings. Of course, that is a topic for another day, but the Super Bowl champions are bringing back Sean McVay, Cooper Kupp, Matthew Stafford, Jalen Ramsey, Aaron Donald and countless others. Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner have also arrived and are ready to join in bringing success to the team.
The biggest question is whether the team can stay humble and take each week as seriously as they did in 2021. After the Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. signings, it was clear the team was operating on a level of hubris amid the ensuing long losing streak. After winning the Super Bowl, one can only wonder whether those demons have been fully dealt with.
2) Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray feels that his team has done enough on his watch to warrant a massive extension. However, the team has said “no thanks” thus far. Regardless, the quarterback showed up for OTAs and sounds committed to bringing success for the team. The biggest question regarding the team is at wide receiver. With DeAndre Hopkins sidelined until midseason, the Cardinals will be starting out the gate at a weaker point than they were last season.
However, to guard against the loss, they acquired Marquise Brown from the Baltimore Ravens. Based on the switch, there is a chance the team could flip their pattern over the last couple of years.
In the past, the team has notoriously hit a wall near mid-season and limped their way to the finish. If there was a year for head coach Kliff Kingsbury to avoid this result, it would be this year. That said, will the team be able to tread water without Hopkins? Overall, the Cardinals may be in second place, but they are a full tier below the Rams, who are the class of the NFC.
3) San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers’ success can be boiled down to one question: where will Jimmy Garoppolo be in September? If he sticks with the team and manages to remain the starter without any drama, the team could easily jump into second place on this ranking. However, if there’s drama or the team outright ships the quarterback away, the 49ers could be in trouble. With Garoppolo, the team has made a Super Bowl and an NFC championship game. Without him, they’ve failed to get above .500 in the Kyle Shanahan era.
Put simply, Trey Lance hasn’t proven he’s ready for the task at hand. Even if he can eventually surpass Garoppolo, it is going to require a full season of learning pains to get there. In the meantime, the 49ers will be stuck behind the Cardinals and Rams in the NFC division race.
4) Seattle Seahawks
When it comes to quarterback, the Seattle Seahawks are in for a rude awakening. Since 2012, the team has been able to coast on the stability brought by Russell Wilson. With him out of the picture in 2022, the team is left with two backup-quality quarterbacks vying for the starting role. If the team changes course from Geno Smith and Drew Lock in favor of Baker Mayfield as current rumors suggest, the Seahawks could become a competitive force this season.
However, with them also losing Bobby Wagner this offseason, all signs point to the team starting a full rebuild. Getting Mayfield would be a win-now move and would ultimately inhibit the team from their ultimate goal of cashing in on the robust first-round picks given for Russell Wilson. “Tanking” is a taboo word in the NFL, but it is hard to look at the situation and arrive at any other conclusion. Until a move is made, placing the Seahawks in the dungeon is the right choice.
For Rams fans, there is a unique satisfaction in seeing the Seahawks at the bottom after spending much of the 2000s and 2010s at the bottom themselves. Many Rams fans are hoping the swap continues for a long time to come.