Unpopular Opinions

Unpopular Opinions: Rams most complete club since '07 Patriots

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 articulate 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 is my take on the team emerging as the NFL's most complete squad of the past decade.

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs might be the most exciting thing about the NFL this season.

Mahomes has thrown 13 touchdown passes without an interception. That's the most touchdown passes in the first three games of a season in NFL history. The Chiefs lead the NFL with 118 points. They are amazing. You can't take your eyes off them. My NFL Network colleagues and I are crammed into a screening room every Sunday, and your eyes never want to leave the screen when Kansas City's playing. (Although last Sunday, that might have been because you didn't want to actually glance at the Titans-Jaguars game.) Like I said: amazing.

The Chiefs are also one-dimensional, though, as their defense is far from championship-caliber right now.

The most complete team in the NFL? That's the Rams. In fact, they are the most complete team in the NFL since the (wait for it) 2007 New England Patriots.

I know a lot of Patriots fans will be all, "Hold the phone, Chief. You don't disrespect the G.O.A.T. by comparing him to Jared (freaking) Goff." And first of all, I will. Mostly because you disrespect the G.O.A.T., Mike Trout, by insinuating Mookie Betts is near his level. When you look at the numbers, it's pretty telling for the Rams/Patriots comparison (but not your dumb Betts-for-MVP movement).

The 2007 Patriots lapped the NFL, similar to the way an older brother will put it on his younger brother in "Madden." The '07 Patriots scored 114 points through their first three games. The Rams have 102. The Patriots gained 1,323 yards through three contests -- the Rams have 1,318. The Patriots averaged 4.25 rushing yards per attempt, and the Rams average 4.26.

The Patriots had Brady (he is the greatest of all-time), Randy Moss (I'll hear your G.O.A.T. arguments for him), Wes Welker and a solid running game. The Rams are rolling with Goff (shut up) and Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp at receiver. No one from that group is close to Moss' level. But Todd Gurley is better than any Patriots running back in the franchise's history (even Curtis Martin), so let's call it pretty even.

And while the Chiefs might want to get into this conversation, let's be real here. The Patriots finished fourth in the NFL in total defense that season. The Rams are shaping up similarly in 2018. New England had a point differential of plus-79 through the first three games of the season. The Rams are rolling with plus-66. The Chiefs are at plus-26.

The most interesting thing to me, though, is that the Rams look like they are holding back. It's like The Rock in a squash match against enhancement talent. He's not going to break out The Rock Bottom until it's absolutely necessary.

The Rams seemed like they slow-played the Raiders in Week 1. Let them think they had a chance, trailing at halftime before rallying in the second half to put it away. The Rams dominated the Cardinals so badly in Week 2 that the Birds didn't even get past midfield until late in the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter! It might have been the saddest thing I've seen in the NFL.

The Chargers were a mild annoyance for the Rams in Week 3. Like a pesky little brother who won't go away. Like Hurricane Helms when he challenged The Rock. Unfortunately for the Chargers, there was no Stone Cold Steve Austin to provide a well-timed distraction. The Chargers didn't have enough, even with Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters leaving the game with injuries.

Maybe I should address that. Talib (high ankle sprain) will be out for at least eight weeks, and Peters (calf strain) is day to day. That's bad news, of course, but the Rams can withstand being without Talib, Peters or both CBs. It's going to be up to Nickell Robey-Coleman, Sam Shields and Troy Hill to step up in the back end, but they are going to be aided immensely by a couple of defenders you might have heard of: Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald. The latter, of course, being the second-best defensive player on the planet, behind Khalil Mack. Maybe third-best, if I'm listening to the Broncos fans' endorsement of Von Miller. And Wade Phillips is still calling that defense.

That's the thing. They are a complete team.

I'm interested to see what the Rams do against the Vikings on Thursday night. Now, I'm not ready to dismiss the Vikings because of their embarrassing home loss to the Bills on Sunday. Which was bad. Michigan losing to Appalachian State bad. UMBC beating top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA men's basketball tournament bad. Shane Falco's Sentinels beating Dallas in "The Replacements" bad. It was bad. But those things happen. I mean, they happen to lower-level teams, not teams that want to challenge for the Super Bowl. And way to back me up on Dan Bailey being the key to the Super Bowl, guys. You can earn back some of that equity with a win in Los Angeles, but I'm still a little stung.

And I'm still of the firm belief the Rams are the most complete team since New England's 16-0 squad.


The Dolphins aren't quite ready to be in on this most-complete team chat. But they are playing pretty well as they head up to New England this weekend. The offense ranks sixth in points per play this season (.484). Ryan Tannehill has continued to improve, as he's won 10 of his last 11 games dating back to 2016. He's completed more than 71 percent of his passes in every game this season, while throwing for at least two touchdowns in all three victories. He's averaging 9.3 yards per attempt, which matches up with Goff.

Miami receivers Jakeem Grant (3.86) and Albert Wilson (3.84) are first and second in yards per route run, according to Pro Football Focus. And that's the preferred stat, as it's believed to be a better indicator of production than yards per reception or yards per target.

I told you about Xavien Howardin the summer. He's on the verge of breaking out. He added two more interceptions against the Raiders on Sunday, giving him three total heading into Week 4.

I'm feeling the Dolphins. I don't want to put too much stock in this Sunday's game. The Patriots are reeling after back-to-back losses. They are still without the suspended Julian Edelman, and historically, they play better in December than September. So a win at New England, while huge, won't mean the world. Likewise, a loss to a desperate Bill Belichick team isn't going to rule them out, either.


Now, if the Chiefs want to get in the mix for most complete team in the NFL, they should swing a trade for Thomas. They've already inquired about him. Take some time and think about what Mack has meant for the Bears. I'm not saying adding Thomas would be that huge, but you can book your ticket to the Super Bowl if you make that move, Chiefs.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @AdamRank.

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