One of the craziest NFL trade deadlines in recent memory has come and gone. The NFC west, led by the Seahawks and the Rams, may have gotten a little stronger, but here is a look at what that means for the Rams remaining division games.
The Rams face the Cardinals in December in Arizona. The last time the Rams faced Arizona in London, the Rams shut them out. This was a surprising result considering the Cardinals had just acquired Adrian Peterson.
Adrian Peterson had his share of struggles in New Orleans, being traded after just 5 weeks, but was coming off a game in which he amassed an impressive 134 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After Carson Palmer was removed from the game with an arm injury, the Rams increased their lead and Peterson saw fewer touches. The Cardinals would attempt to air it out and close the gap, but the Rams defense overwhelmed backup quarterback Drew Stanton.
It is clear that the Cardinals need to put the ball in Peterson’s hands if they want to beat the Rams. Although he is 32, it is clear that Peterson can still show flashes of greatness given the opportunity. Wade Phillips’ defense is only going to get better, however, and with Stanton struggling to lead the passing game, the Rams can focus on containing Peterson and the Cardinals run game.
The Rams should not have trouble being successful against the struggling Arizona Cardinals, but the acquisition of Peterson means they will have to work a little harder.
San Francisco 49ers
The Rams will face the San Francisco 49ers on New Year’s Eve at home for the last game of the season. The last time they faced the 49ers, it was a Thursday night shoot out. Even though the 49ers are off to their worst start in franchise history, they have always played the Rams tough, this last matchup was no exception.
The 49ers just received quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots in a blockbuster trade. Garoppolo stuck with the Patriots through three years behind a seemingly ageless Tom Brady. He played in 17 games in that span, completed 68.1 percent of his passes, and threw for five touchdowns with zero interceptions for a passer rating of 108.6. The 49ers will look to Garoppolo to lead their struggling team against the continuously improving Rams.
Garoppolo is really a mystery at this point. His numbers are impressive, but he performed well on elite Patriots teams and 17 games in a three year span is a small sampling size. With nine games left in the season, the Rams should have plenty time to gauge whether or not a Garoppolo-run 49er offense is legit.
The 49ers play the Rams tough, but at this point, the Rams are still the better team. The 49er offensive line is a major liability, and even if Garoppolo improves the 49er offense, it is safe to assume that Aaron Donald and company will wreak havoc in the backfield. If the Garoppolo doesn’t inspire some offensive prowess, the 49ers may face low morale at the end of the season as well.
The Rams will face the Seahawks mid-December this year in Seattle. The Rams have 2two losses so far this season, and one of them is to the Seattle Seahawks in Los Angeles. In a close game the Rams had the opportunity to win it, but mistakes would deny them the victory.
The Seahawks just received Duane Brown, a punishing left tackle, from the Houston Texans. Duane Brown can help solidify the Seahawks’ struggling offensive line. Brown is a three time Pro Bowl left tackle. In his 2010 season he allowed seven sacks with zero holding penalties. The protection of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s blind side will be a huge improvement.
Wilson is a great talent at quarterback. Despite his lack of an offensive line, his ability to move and create plays has been a strength. With Brown on his blindside he will be afforded more time to create more plays.
In the Rams previous loss to the Seahawks, there were a lot of mistakes made, Aaron Donald was coming off of his holdout. They have seemingly cleared up some of those short-comings, especially on special teams. The Seahawks in Seattle is never an easy task, that task just got a bit harder. If the Rams continue to improve and gain confidence there is no reason why they can’t keep this one close, and if they keep it close, their chances of winning are looking favorable.
There is no denying that the NFC West is tougher post trade deadline. The Rams still face their three division rivals which means their schedule difficulty has just increased. If the Rams are to remain atop the division, they will need to continue to improve and limit mistakes. Rams fans need not despair, however. Although the teams in the division are attempting to build stronger rosters, they are simply playing catch up with an already strong Los Angeles Rams Roster.