The Los Angeles Rams looked like the next dynasty to emerge from the NFC only a season ago. They dominated teams throughout the regular season, rolling to a 13-3 record, thanks to an offense that simply overwhelmed the opposition. With Jared Goff at quarterback, Todd Gurley II at tailback (along with C.J. Anderson in the postseason) and a talented wide receiving corps, the Rams looked unstoppable. Their defense had some issues, but they breezed by Dallas in the divisional playoff and survived New Orleans in the NFC Championship — before the New England Patriots stopped them cold in the Super Bowl, holding them to three points in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in league history (with 16 combined points). Even so, there was optimism going into 2019, but the return of Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco, the rejuvenation of the Seattle Seahawks and the arrival of Kyler Murray in Arizona, along with a sizable Super Bowl hangover, sent the Rams stumbling through a season that saw them start 3-0, skid to 3-3, and finish 9-7, out of the playoffs. Going into the off-season, their odds to win Super Bowl LV sat at 25/1 but have grown, after the first wave of free agency, to 40/1, even with Arizona, Chicago, Cleveland, the Chargers and Las Vegas. Let’s take a look at their and moves and discuss whether they are worthy of sports betting consideration as next year’s champions.
NFL: L.A. Rams Change in Super Bowl Odds after Free Agency Wave #1
It certainly looks like the Rams are cutting ties with the vast majority of the team that rode to the league’s championship two seasons ago. They released Gurley (who signed a deal with Atlanta the very next day). They also cut Clay Matthews, who did not make the sort of splash that the team expected in the pass rush. Cory Littleton, Michael Brockers and Dante Fowler have all left for other teams, and the team did not pick up the 2020 option on Nickell Robey-Coleman.
The Rams have made some additions, to be sure. Leonard Floyd and A’Shawn Robinson will wear royal blue and yellow next year, and they will improve the team’s defense against the run. Austin Blythe and Andrew Whitworth received extensions so the offensive line will retain some of its stability going into next season.
However, the team has seen its relative rankings drop. According to Touchdown Wire’s Mark Schofield, the Rams had been ranked #21 in his Power Rankings before free agency and now sit at #23. Losing Gurley for nothing and having little that is exciting coming in the 2020 draft are negative signs. Given the additions that the Cardinals, Seahawks and 49ers are making, it will be tough for the Rams to compete in 2020 — and perhaps beyond. They do not have a pick in the first round in 2020 or 2021, and their salary cap space is already limited.
This certainly puts the onus on Goff and his top wideout, Brandin Cooks. The problem with Goff is that he hits the panic button way too early in the pocket. All it takes is a semblance of a pass rush for Goff to make poor decisions. Once Bill Belichick figured that out ahead of Super Bowl LIII, the rest of the league took notice and made a priority of getting to Goff, then things unraveled for him quickly.
As of this writing, the Rams still have a few important unrestricted free agents. One is backup quarterback Blake Bortles, who, just two seasons ago, had Jacksonville ahead of New England going into the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship but lost his job to Nick Foles and then found himself behind Goff. With Cam Newton and Jameis Winston also out there as free agents, there may not be a starting opportunity for Bortles. Kicker Greg Zuerlein has played all of his eight seasons with the Rams but only made 72.7 percent of his field goals in 2019. The Rams might re-sign him anyway, as there are not many quality kickers available in free agency and the Rams have other priorities for their six draft picks.
So, should you put some long money down on the Rams to win the Super Bowl? They will have a hard time posting a winning record this season, let alone finding their way into the postseason.