Los Angeles Rams
Credit:Mark J. Terrill:AP

Is 2021 Super Bowl or Bust For The Los Angeles Rams?

The Los Angeles Rams have been a consistent playoff team since 2017 under head coach Sean McVay. They reached a Super Bowl in 2018 after a 13-3 regular season but ultimately lost to the Patriots 13-3. In 2020, the Rams went 10-6 and won a playoff game against Seattle, but the season still felt disappointing. McVay was clearly done with Jared Goff, and the team shipped him off to Detroit in exchange for Matt Stafford. With an upgraded quarterback, a top-five defense, and one of the smartest head coaches in the NFL, this team has the pieces to make a run at a Lombardi Trophy.

Notable Additions:

Matt Stafford, DeSean Jackson, Tutu Atwell (rookie)

Notable Departures:

John Johnson III, Troy Hill, Austin Blythe, Michael Brockers, Josh Reynolds, Gerald Everett

Although Stafford is a clear upgrade over Goff, the team did lose several pieces on offense. Arguably the biggest loss was offensive lineman Austin Blythe, who played every offensive snap at center in 2020. Although Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein are solid tackles, Whitworth is getting old and coming off an injury, and if one of them goes down in 2021, the Rams’ offensive line could turn into a real weakness. The departure of Gerald Everett also hurts, as the dynamic tight end is now a member of the Seahawks, who the Rams face twice a year.

This defense is pretty damn good. They have the best defensive lineman in Aaron Donald and the best cornerback in the league in Jalen Ramsey, but the defense is so top-heavy that it likely cannot recover from an injury to either Ramsey or Donald. They lost three key pieces on their defense in John Johnson III, Troy Hill, and Michael Brockers. Johnson was their starting safety and a leader in the secondary, Hill was a solid number-two corner opposite Ramsey, and Brockers provided a consistent pass rush off the edge. Jordan Fuller looks the part of an NFL safety heading into his second year and Leonard Floyd resigned, but the defense remains star-dependent.

Finally, I am interested to see how Stafford handles playing for the Los Angeles Rams. There is a lot of pressure on the California native to get the Rams to the playoffs, as the team managed to reach a super bowl with Goff under center. Stafford played a lot of meaningless games for the Detroit Lions, but all six of LA’s games against their NFC West opponents will be on primetime television and have the feel of playoff games. I would not be surprised if this division sends three teams to the playoffs. Apparently, Stafford is better than advertised, and McVay called him “a bad mother-fucker,” a solid endorsement from his head coach.

The Buccaneers are the clear favorites to come out of the NFC, as they essentially brought back their entire team from 2020, but the Los Angeles Rams should be right behind them. If Aaron Rodgers is not on the Packers and they roll with Jordan Love, they are not a threat. Seattle and Wilson will have a potent offense, but their pass rush is worrisome. The 49ers hope to bounce back after an injury-riddled season, but they are not the same team that got to a Super Bowl in 2019. The 2021 season will be a disappointment if the Rams do not make it to at least the NFC championship.

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