Number 3? Rams Get To Play The Disrespect Card Thanks To Pro Football Focus

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cooper kupp

The Rams can officially shout the “No one believes in us” credo going into the 2022 NFL season.

PFF (Pro Football Focus) has come out with its rankings of each of the NFL’s 32 teams a month before training camp begins and places the Rams third behind the Buffalo Bills and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Saying the Rams loss of wide receiver Robert Woods, and the still unsettled situation with Odell Beckham Jr. are factors, PFF does note the additions of Allen Robinson and Bobby Wager but concludes, “There’s a good chance that, at best, they have taken a sideways step in an off-season where several contenders got better.”

PFF is merely following along with much of the NFL media that sees the Buffalo Bills and quarterback Josh Allen as No. 1.

Being ranked No. 3 isn’t so bad, right? Let’s take a closer look.

Reasons to believe in the Rams

The NFL, really, football at every level, is a quarterback-driven game and the Rams still have one of the top signal callers in Matthew Stafford.

While Stafford isn’t going to break loose from the pocket and run like Lamar Jackson or throw the ball behind-his-back-sideways like Patrick Mahomes, Stafford has the arm strength to make every throw needed in the Rams offense and showed maturity during the Rams Super Bowl championship run.

Also, let’s not forget, the Rams have Aaron Donald. It’s telling that in almost all of the write-ups on the 32 teams by PFF, the team’s prospects at quarterbacks are listed in each.

The Rams report doesn’t include any mention of Donald, who, you know, is the most dominant defensive player in the NFL (and is now paid like it).

Offenses can win games. Defenses win championships.

Reasons to worry about the Rams

It’s hard to believe that star wide receiver Cooper Kupp can repeat his incredible performance from the 2021 season. Stopping him will be priority No. 1 for opposing defenses. The Rams may see lots of teams play base nickel defenses giving them the chance to run the ball…and just who will the Rams primary running back be?

I also think the loss of offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth isn’t being recognized enough.

He leaves a huge void of leadership and experience on the offensive line. I know it’s not glamorous to talk about offensive lines in football, but you need a good one to win a Super Bowl.

Remember, the Bengals were driving at the end of Super Bowl LVI when their bad offensive line finally got the better of them.

The other issue that will hurt the Rams is how as the defending Super Bowl champs, they will absorb everyone’s best shot for 17 weeks. No one has repeated as Super Bowl champs since the Patriots back in 2004 and 2005.

Surprises in the PFF 32

Tom Brady retired. Tom Brady un-retired. On Tuesday, Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski retired. PFF has the Bucs ranked No. 2 just behind the Bills citing their addition of wide receiver Russell Gage from Atlanta and saying never doubt Tom Brady.

No one should ever doubt Tom Brady, but Rams fans should remember the NFC Divisional Round game where Brady was a sitting duck in the pocket and looked shaky.

Father Time comes for everyone, sooner or later, and the Bucs have a new coach, no more Gronkowski and an aging Brady. Are they really the second-best team in the NFL?

PFF puts LA’s other franchise, the Chargers, at No. 5, loving the growth of Justin Herbert and the addition of Khalil Mack.

There are two other big surprises (to me) in the Top 10. PFF has the Denver Broncos seventh based pretty much on Russell Wilson coming over from Seattle, but Wilson can’t do it all by himself (he has no one to throw too), and PFF lists the Cleveland Browns at No. 10. (Insert your Deshaun Watson massage joke here).

Bottom feeders to remember

People don’t like the Tennessee Titans because they play a boring brand of football, their head coach Mike Vrabel is a bit of a wacko and their uniforms stink. However, the Titans were the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs last year and have gone 50-31 in the last five years, that’s the eight best record in the NFL in that time period.

They still have monster running back Derrick Henry. PFF has them No. 17. The Titans are way too low.

You also know that one of the teams that no one is thinking about is going to pop up during the NFL season. My pick would be the Minnesota Vikings. PFF has them 22.

No, I’m not a Kirk Cousins fan, but new coach Kevin O’Connell is breath of fresh air for this franchise and they still have star wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. The NFC Central is there for the taking if they can get by the Packers.