Around the NFL  

 

L.A. Rams go from punchline to top of NFC West

Print

Let's take a short trip back in time. We're going back to Monday Night Football in Week 1 when the entire nation was laughing at the Rams. Los Angeles just got shut out by a not-very-good San Francisco 49ers squad and employed a quarterback, Case Keenum, who struggled to complete a forward pass.

After being a punchline with zero points a fortnight ago, Jeff Fisher's 2-1 Rams are now leading the NFC West after Sunday's win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

That's right, the Rams currently sit atop a division that includes NFC powerhouses Seattle and Arizona -- by virtue of a tiebreaking win over the Seahawks. Even with a -17 point differential, Los Angeles claims the top spot (for comparison, the Seahawks own a +15 differential).

The Rams are over .500 after three games for the first time since 2006. That Scott Linehan-led '06 squad started 4-1 and finished 8-8 (because of course they did). Sunday's victory snapped the current longest streak of a franchise being under .500 after three games.

Per NFL Media Research, since 1970, only three teams failed to score a touchdown in their first two games and were above .500 after three contests: 2016 Rams are 2-1; 1988 Browns were 2-1 (finished 10-6, made playoffs); 1974 Eagles were 2-1 (finished 7-7, missed playoffs).

"All I know is we got Arizona at Arizona next week," Fisher said after the game when asked about avoiding a 1-2 start, via the L.A. Times. "None of them are easy, but we'll take it."

The Rams' offense entered Sunday's contest ranking last in the NFL in points per game (4.5), total yards per game (234.0), yards per play (4.0), third down percent (22.2) and TDs (0). On Sunday, Keenum and Todd Gurley helped lift the Rams to four offensive touchdowns, 37 total points, 320 total yards, 5.3 YPP, and a 46.2 third-down conversion percent. Not otherworldly leaps, but trending in the right direction.

When talking up Keenum this summer, coaches continually noted his three-game winning streak late last season. The Rams have now won five of their last seven games dating back to Week 14, 2015.

"I mean you got to keep this right here, this momentum going," receiver Kenny Britt said of the two-game win streak.

The NFL is a week-to-week league. A loss to Arizona next week will pull the Rams back to .500 and off the division pedestal.

But for one week you own an NFL division leader, Los Angeles. Get excited.

Print