After going 4-12 in 2016, the Rams went 11-5 in 2017 — their first season under head coach Sean McVay — en route to winning the franchise’s first NFC West title since 2003 and their first playoff appearance since 2004. The near-tripling of the team’s win total was due to breakout seasons for third-year RB Todd Gurley, who was named the AP Offensive Player of the Year, and second-year QB Jared Goff. Even though the Rams had one of the league’s best offenses last season, that didn’t stop them from adding to it this year. They traded a couple of 2018 draft picks, including their first-rounder, to the Patriots in exchange for WR Brandin Cooks, who they later locked up with a five-year contract extension. Acquiring Cooks makes an already-good offense even better and deeper.
The offense was 10th in the NFL with 5,784 yards, but it led the league with 478 points, which was 20 points better than the second-place Patriots. Goff threw for 3,804 yards and 28 touchdowns, with just seven interceptions in 15 games. Gurley had 279 rushes for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns, to go along with a team-high 64 receptions for 788 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games. Rookie WR Cooper Kupp also played in 15 games — six starts — and caught 62 balls for 869 yards and five touchdowns. WR Robert Woods added 56 catches for 781 yards and five scores in 12 games. Cooks recorded 65 receptions for the Patriots, going for 1,082 yards and seven scores. The defense was in the middle third of the league in both yards and points allowed.
The Rams’ start their season in the final game of Week 1, visiting the Raiders in the second half of the Monday NIght Football doubleheader. They’re at home for their next three games, starting with the Cardinals coming to Los Angeles in Week 2. That’s followed by visits from the Chargers and Vikings. The Rams then have three straight on the road, starting with a Week 5 contest at the Seahawks. They visit the Broncos in Week 6 and the 49ers in Week 7, then return home to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The Rams play at the Saints in Week 9, and that is followed by a home game against the Seahawks in Week 10. The Rams are the designated home team in Week 11 when they play the Chiefs in a Monday night contest in Mexico City. That is followed by a Week 12 bye, then consecutive road games against the Lions and Bears. The Rams host the Super Bowl LII champion Eagles in Week 15’s Sunday nighter and visit the Cardinals in Week 16. They end the regular season at home against the 49ers in Week 17.
The Rams scored more points than any team in the league last season and they added to their offensive attack by trading for Cooks this offseason. After last season, it appears to be obvious that Goff and Gurley are both the real deal. It may be hard for Gurley to duplicate the numbers he put up last season, but he should be able to surpass 1,000 rushing yards while putting up numbers in the passing game as well. The defense, led by DT Aaron Donald, could be better but if the offense can continue putting points on the board like it did in 2017, the defense shouldn’t be too much of a drag on the team. The Rams have some tough teams on the schedule this season, including two games against an improved 49ers team, but with the talent they have they should be able to get to double-digit wins again, which will likely be good enough to reach the playoffs for a second straight season.