St. Louis Rams: NFC West

Morning Ram-blings: NFC Best

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
8:00
AM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Should the St. Louis Rams find a way to win their final two games against Tampa Bay at home and on the road against Seattle, they will finish 8-8 for the first time since 2006.

A .500 finish would be a positive step forward for the Rams heading into 2014. Of course, any positive traction gained from that record would have to be tempered by the fact that an 8-8 finish would land the Rams squarely in last place in the NFC West division.

That's right, the same division which Seattle won in 2010 with a 7-9 record could theoretically have a last place finisher with eight victories. We already know the Rams will finish last, a development clinched by Arizona's win against Tennessee last week.

It's safe to say the division once derided as the "NFC Worst" can now be called the "NFC Best." Through 14 weeks, the NFC West is 37-19 overall, the best performance of any division in football. That record is even more impressive when you look at the performance of the Rams, Cardinals, 49ers and Seahawks outside of the division. The NFC West is 28-10 in those games with Seattle (9-1) and Arizona (8-2) leading the way.

As Seahawks reporter Terry Blount pointed out Wednesday, the number of division games left means the NFC West can fare no worse than 40-24 (excluding possible ties).

The AFC West is the only division even sniffing what the NFC West has done so far this year with a record of 33-23.

Like with most things in the NFL, divisional upticks are a cyclical thing that fluctuate from year to year. But given the relative youth and talent piling up in all four NFC West cities, it looks like a good bet the NFC West will maintain its position for at least the next few years.

I.C.Y.M.I.

A roundup of Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com Wednesday. ... In yesterday's Ram-blings, we looked at the Rams' loss of defensive end Gerald Rivers on waivers to Jacksonville. ... This week's buzz provided a video look at what the Rams have in front of them in the final two weeks. ... We then reacted to ESPN draft expert Todd McShay's selection of Jake Matthews for the Rams at No. 2. ... We then evaluated the actual chances of end Robert Quinn winning the defensive player of the year award. ... Finally, we finished the day with an update on the status of injured receiver Tavon Austin.

Elsewhere:

Over at Grantland, Bill Barnwell offers his process for making the Rams into contenders.

At stltoday.com, Jim Thomas explores the efforts of tight end/fullback Cory Harkey.

Thomas also participated in his weekly chat with readers.

Turf Show Times discusses some of the early draft options for the Rams with about five months to spare.

CBSSports.com speculates on the Rams and quarterback Sam Bradford. Well, sort of.

Rapid Reaction: Rams 27, Cardinals 24

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
7:32
PM ET

ST. LOUIS -- Quick thoughts on the St. Louis Rams’ 27-24 season-opening win against the Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome:

What it means: Those expecting a big offensive explosion from the Rams didn’t exactly get what they wanted, though the Rams did do most of their offensive damage through the air. Still, quarterback Sam Bradford got the job done with a late scoring drive and started an important season for him by leading his team to a comeback victory. This team is his team without Steven Jackson, and Bradford led it when it needed him most.

Stock Watch: Up -- tight end Jared Cook had a tough start with his early fumble on what looked like it would have been a touchdown, but he bounced back and gave the Cardinals fits all day. He was the one weapon the Rams had been waiting to “unleash” who actually was unveiled Sunday. He finished with seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns.

Down -- cornerback Cortland Finnegan is supposed to be the reliable, veteran linchpin of the Rams secondary, but he had a rough day at the office. Larry Fitzgerald makes plenty of corners look bad, and he did it to Finnegan on a third-quarter touchdown. But Finnegan also racked up a pair of costly unnecessary roughness penalties.

Something’s “off”: The Rams spent large chunks of last season playing soft coverage with their outside corners. Many believed it was a product of having young corners like Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson playing a lot of snaps. Not much changed in Week 1, though. Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer got the ball out quickly and efficiently for most of the day.

Quinn’s big day: Rams defensive end Robert Quinn made life miserable for Arizona left tackle Levi Brown by beating him for three sacks and forcing two fumbles, one of which the Rams recovered late before tying it up. Chris Long is the more established of the two ends but Quinn’s upside is that of an elite pass rusher.

What’s next: The Rams will be off for the next two days to regroup from a dramatic win before beginning a difficult stretch of schedule with back-to-back road trips to Atlanta and Dallas.

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