Unpopular Opinions  


Unpopular Opinions: Rams NFC's best team; trade Von Miller!


Listen, I don't try to live my life as a contrarian. That's not true -- I kind of do. I spend a lot of time in public houses and taverns, and I have a two-hour commute that allows me to hear a lot of the sports world's most popular opinions. Sometimes, I think it's best to take a look at the other side.

In this space, I'll be articulating a handful of positions that are the opposite of what most people think -- unpopular opinions, if you will -- and explain why, well, my unpopular opinions are right and everyone else is wrong. Here are my takes on an offseason gone wild ...

Oh my god, the NFL free agency period has been straight fire. Molten, burning fire. As hot as the pyres of Richard Sherman jerseys burning in Seattle. Hotter than "Black Panther." And there are some similarities there ... Free agency and "Black Panther" were each super-hyped coming in. Not only did both meet the exceedingly lofty expectations, but they went above and beyond.

And I'm not just making a lazy comparison to the hottest topic in popular culture because the Bears went out and signed Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel. Well, maybe a little. But a lot of teams are making big moves to get better. I mean, not you, Seahawks. (Seriously, kicking the tires on DeMarco Murray behind that line?) But a lot of teams. Especially in the NFC. The Saints held on to Drew Brees, as expected. The Vikings went out and got Kirk Cousins. And the Cardinals were all, "Hey, our former No. 1 overall pick, Heisman Trophy-winning, oft-injured quarterback is retiring. Let's get us another one!"

Even the Packers got into the mix. Sure, they whiffed huge on Robinson and Sammy Watkins, but the Pack did land Jimmy Graham, which should help with their intramural basketball team. Although that signing was kind of bittersweet in Green Bay, because it led to the franchise consciously uncoupling from Jordy Nelson. Which ... later dude! I'm not too broken up about this, like at all. Go to the AFC.

But a bunch of teams really improved themselves this week. And I know a lot of people like to say things like, "Championships aren't won in March." Which is completely stupid. The Eagles signed Nick Foles on March 13, 2017. So, you're wrong. This is exactly when you win championships.

And to me, one team's recent actions stand out above the rest -- a rising franchise that has truly nailed it in the past few weeks ...

UNPOPULAR OPINION: With two brilliant trades, the Rams are now the NFC's best team.

Yes, the Rams just passed the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles. And they didn't do it in free agency -- they did it through a few trades.

I know, Eagles fans, it always seems like I doubt you. I don't. You're still very good. I'm just really into the Rams right now.

Sure, L.A. just lost Watkins. But the additions of Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib are going to push the Rams over the top. Best moves they've made since they jettisoned Jeff Fisher. And then hired Sean McVay. And then hired Wade Phillips. ... Fine, these are the best moves they've made this year.

And it's not just what these two cornerbacks are able to do on the field. Make no mistake, Peters and Talib are great players. But it's more than that. I really hate to use the term "intangibles," but not enough to keep me from doing it. Because, if there was one thing missing from this upstart 11-5 squad last year, it was ... well, as Chris Jericho would say ... IT.


Shoot, I could sit here and rifle through a thesaurus all day. But I think you get what I mean.

The Rams were as talented as any team in the league last season. They led the NFL in scoring. On paper, it all worked. They just needed a little bit of an edge. I'm not saying they needed to go full Heel Mode, like Seth Rollins swinging chairs on The Shield, but something like that. Although Talib does bring some of that venom -- just ask Michael Crabtree's necklace. But like Mike Damone told Mark Ratner, you have to have the attitude.

The Rams didn't have it last year. You could see it in the playoff loss to the Falcons. The Rams wanted to be great, they just weren't there yet. This is where Talib and Peters come in. This is Talib's specialty. Talib's Liam Neeson -- he has a very particular set of skills, skills which get good defenses over the top. The Broncos had a good defense a few years ago when it reached Super Bowl XLVIII. Talib made the unit great two years later. He was the knockout blow that pushed them over the top. He might not have been the best player on the defense -- that was Von Miller -- but you needed him on that team, watching over everything like a sentinel. Kind of like what Ron Artest -- sorry, Metta World Peace -- brought to the Lakers. Kobe was clearly the guy, but Metta made that last championship happen. This is exactly what Talib brings to the Rams. World Peace. Or rather, an attitude.

And let's make no mistake: Peters is more than just a sidekick. If Talib is Kevin Nash, then Peters is Scott Hall. Peters has 21 interceptions in his first three pro seasons -- the most in the league over that time period. Over the last quarter-century, only Ed Reed (22) has recorded more interceptions in his first three seasons. I'd add a "too sweet" zinger here, but feel like I've made too many wrestling references already.

With McVay's potent offense, Phillips' upgraded defense and the team's uptick in It Factor, the Rams are the top team in the NFC right now.

UNPOPULAR OPINION: The Broncos should trade Von Miller and rebuild.

Now, some Broncos fans seem relieved the organization saved some money by not hiring the guy who is good at playing quarterback on the NFL level, instead rolling with a journeyman who had a miracle run with an already-good Vikings team last year.

Keenum went 11-3 last season. Threw 22 touchdown passes against just seven picks. Completed 67.6 percent of his passes. And he posted a passer rating of 98.3. It was a great season. But is it sustainable? Are we to just ignore his 9-15 record in the four seasons prior, when he completed just 58.4 percent of his passes, threw 24 touchdowns against 20 interceptions and posted a passer rating of 78.4? Are we supposed to assume he'll reach those 2017 numbers again, despite a downgrade in supporting cast and coaching, as well as a home field that's now outdoors? I mean, you saw the NFC Championship Game, right, Broncos fans? You basically brought in a moderately rich man's Trevor Siemian. Congratulations.

I know what you're going to say. "Hey, we're probably going to draft a QB, too." Which is great. But if that's the case, it means you're rebuilding -- you've already missed the playoffs in back-to-back years, after all -- and why not go all in? You have some nice pieces on defense -- a defense that finished 22nd in points allowed last year.

You need help. A lot of it. I'm not going to pretend to know what the market for Miller would command. But if you can move him for more assets and build a team around that quarterback you're planning to draft (start with the offensive line), then you have to do it.

The Broncos don't want to be caught in the same position as the Cardinals. The Birds are in a division with the rising Rams and 49ers. L.A. is the team to beat in the NFC (well, that is if you read the above), while San Francisco's going to be the hipster pick to win the Super Bowl because JIMMY G HAS NEVER LOST A GAME! The 49ers even won the draft coin flip with the Raiders! He never loses! At the same time, Arizona's just treading water, paying a guy like Sam Bradford huge money, while releasing a supremely popular player like Tyrann Mathieu for no compensation.

Meanwhile, the Broncos are well behind the Chiefs, who improved their offense with Sammy Watkins. The Chargers are way more talented and have a quarterback who has been consistently good. And then there's the Raiders, who are trying to win my 2015 fantasy league with Doug Martin and potentially Jordy Nelson.

Broncos fans: Right now, you and the Cardinals are like that Spiderman pointing emoji, right down to the Vikings castoff as your starting quarterback.


The Browns are making a splash, and are clearly one of the biggest winners of free agency thus far. And they hold the first and fourth overall picks in the draft. All of this stems from the flexibility created by the actions of deposed EVP Sashi Brown. But giving him credit is kind of difficult. John Dorsey's the man in the spotlight now, as the active general manager of the franchise. Kind of like how Stan Lee gets to fart it up in every Marvel movie, but nobody remembers the true genius: the late Jack Kirby.

However, people are starting to see the light, retroactively giving Sashi the love he deserves. And it's kind of cool.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @AdamRank.



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