Team Capsules: Los Angeles Rams

August 28, 2023

A look at every NFL franchise heading into the 2023 season

Los Angeles Rams

© Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Just about 18 months ago, the Los Angeles Rams were hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and were the toast of the NFL world. Life can come at you fast. After an injury-riddled 2022 that got off to a slow start as early as opening night against the Bills, the Rams finished a wildly disappointing 5-12. 

And that one bad season has people seemingly down on them, even though their (arguably) three best players from the Super Bowl team and genius head coach are still around. Let’s see if Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald and Sean McVay can overachieve in 2023.

What to like about the Rams…

  • A healthy Stafford and Kupp should make all the difference for Los Angeles. They each played just nine games a season ago and the campaign was derailed. But in 2021, Stafford threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns. Kupp almost got to the 2,000-yard receiving mark and had 16 touchdowns. He capped things off by going for eight catches for 92 yards and two TDs in the Super Bowl, winning MVP. When they’re on the field, this remains one of the best duos in the NFL. 
  • Donald is a monster on the defensive line, arguably the greatest defender in the history of the league. He’s won Defensive Player of the Year three times, tied with Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt for the most ever. That’s pretty good company to be in. He’s made the Pro Bowl in all nine of his seasons and has been a first-team All-Pro seven times. He’s had double-digit sacks in six of nine years and has 103 for his career to go with 24 forced fumbles. Donald’s a dominant force; he makes the Rams defense scary, even without a ton of help around him. 
  • McVay is still a top-five coach in the NFL, despite all the luck working against the Rams last season. His career record sits well over .500 at a comfortable 60-38; 2022 was the first season ever his Rams didn’t eclipse .500 and they won double-digit games in four of his first five seasons. He’s been the head coach in two Super Bowls, winning one, and he’s still only 37 years old. Some rumors swirled about his future this past winter, but he’s back. And if McVay is going to commit to something, he’s going to do it right. L.A. is in good hands under his guidance.

What not to like about the Rams…

  • We’ve covered the big four, but what about the rest of the team? The defense has pretty much zero household names outside of Donald. Bobby Wagner, who led the team in tackles with 140, is back with the Seahawks. Jalen Ramsey, an elite cornerback, is now down in Miami (but unfortunately already hurt). Von Miller bolted after winning the Super Bowl, playing 2022 in Buffalo. Leonard Floyd later joined him with the Bills this summer. There’s no real edge presence on this team and rushing the QB will be a major issue. A once star-studded unit is now devoid of them.
  • Outside of Kupp, Stafford really doesn’t have a ton of weapons on offense. Is Van Jefferson really a No. 2 wide receiver? Tight end Tyler Higbee played in all 17 games last season, but he had just three touchdowns and 620 yards. Ben Skowronek was third on the team in receiving with a paltry 376 yards. Sure, they battled injuries, but L.A.’s 280.5 yards per game were dead last in the NFL; 32nd out of 32 is never a position you want to be in. Their 18.1 points per game slotted in at tied 27th. They didn’t bring in any huge free agent offensive weapons to shake things up. Finding the end zone could be a battle. 
  • On paper, the Rams look like the third best team in the NFC West. Almost everyone thinks the Niners will at least make a return trip to the championship game, if not the Super Bowl. The Seahawks were one of the darlings of the NFL last year, making the playoffs after dumping Geno Smith for Russell Wilson. Expectations are high again in Seattle. The Cardinals could be the worst team in the league, so at least that’s two wins. But Los Angeles also has to play the Bengals, Eagles, Steelers, Cowboys, Ravens and Giants, along with the 49ers and Seahawks twice. It’s a daunting schedule.

Steve Quinne’s Pick: Rams to make the playoffs (+300)

Taking the Rams over 6.5 wins (+110) feels like the safe bet, as there’s no way McVay and the three stars mentioned above let this team go any worse than 7-10. Yes, they need to stay on the field, but given how snakebit L.A. was a year ago, the law of averages feels like things will even out. However, the advice is going to be shoot even higher. The Rams at +300 to make the playoffs in a fairly weak NFC is tremendous value. Heck, outside of the Eagles and 49ers, no one really knows who the true contenders are in the conference. Someone has to win the North and South, but that leaves three wild card spots up for grabs. Look for the Rams to shock the NFL and find their way back into the postseason.