The St. Louis Rams showed last season that they were ready to be competitive again. Lead be new head coach Jeff Fisher, they pushed the San Francisco 49ers to the limit one time, and found a way to beat both them and the Seattle Seahawks once. Considering the 49ers and Seahawks are among the league’s elite, the Rams’ division games can be used as a hefty measuring stick.
With running back Steven Jackson and wide receiver Danny Amendola being the only major losses and solid improvements being made across the board on the roster, the Rams will confidently walk into 2013 with playoff aspirations. And if they get there, they won’t be complete washes in the playoffs with 40/1 odds to win the Super Bowl.
On offense, Sam Bradford finally started to look like a true franchise quarterback last year, and with the drafting of explosive wide receiver Tavon Austin and signing of athletic tight end Jared Cook, it’s arguable that Bradford could approach an elite level in 2013.
The running game is the only real question mark in on offense in St. Louis, as Jackson left behind a trio of unproven backs in Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy. While it would be ideal if one could emerge as the every down back Jackson used to be, the Rams could still get by on the ground if the three simply combined to form a steady committee at the position.
Defense has been the Rams’ bread and butter lately, as Robert Quinn and Chris Long combine for one of the league’s best pass-rushing duos, while inside linebacker James Laurinaitis anchors a maturing linebacking corps that adds on athletic rookie, Alec Ogletree.
Safety was the biggest problem for St. Louis last season, but with the drafting of rookie T.J. McDonald, there is hope the Rams can solidify their secondary, once and for all.
With the deepest team the Rams have rostered in years, they enter 2013 as a legit playoff sleeper. And if they can crack the NFC’s six-pack for post-season play, anything can happen thanks to Jeff Fisher’s leadership and experience.