Here’s what the L.A. Rams just did…
Oh, wait. Hold on.
Let me set some ground rules here so we’re on the same page – I think Dallas is going to win the Super Bowl, but I’m less confident of that today than I was when I predicted it Spring 2017. One of the reasons I’m less-sure of Dallas now…I think Los Angeles Rams are one of the five best teams in football, right now. They can win the Super Bowl.
The NFC has lost Green Bay (minus Rodgers), Atlanta (exposed), the Giants and Seattle (just plain bad) from among its supposed power teams. It’s now Dallas and the L.A. Rams with Carolina pushing into that discussion. Minnesota has a claim. New Orleans, I think, is on the verge of making a run. At the top, at the very top…it’s Dallas and L.A. – and L.A. having beaten Dallas at Dallas already.
You don’t think the choice of a head coach matters…the Rams changed everything when they hired Sean McVay and then the staff McVay put together.
OK, here’s what the Rams just did – went to Dallas and beat the Cowboys. Followed that up by bullying Seattle, but had a ton of turnovers (most fluky) and still came within a Cooper Kupp fingernail of beating the Seahawks. Went to Jacksonville, possessor of the best defense in the NFL and coming off their Steelers beat down…the Rams went in and manhandled them. The Rams have taken on three tough, major opponents in-a-row and nearly won all three of them. On my scorecard, they did win all three because I saw what they did to Seattle. Seattle knows full well they aren’t as good as the Rams…if they’re honest.
I watch Philadelphia Eagles games this season and constantly wonder how they won the game. I leave watching Rams games thinking I’m seeing one the best coached, best-quarterbacked teams in the league and a notoriously talented but underperforming defense is starting to click. Best kicker in the league. Best punter in the league. A successful, experienced, top defensive coordinator. Best offensive mind in the game as head coach. Next Tom Brady at quarterback.
You know what this kind of team does? It goes into the league’s toughest defense at their home field and outplays them. It jumps out to a 7-0 lead returning the opening kickoff, and when the opponent comes right back with a first play, long TD run of their own…it answers back to take 10-7 lead. When the opponent answers that punch with a TD to take a 14-10 lead and gets the home crowd rocking -- it starts putting the home team to sleep with their smart offense, great defense…and takes a 24-14 lead before half to quiet the crowd…and then keeps them out of the end zone in the second half.
The Rams were so impressive in this game. Most teams cower to the Jags pass defense…Goff tried to attack it downfield. Most QBs who try to attack the Jags pass defense pay with interceptions…Goff had none. The Jaguars are an impressive team and physical – and the Rams went in like Floyd Mayweather and just fought the smart fight, didn’t take a big hit, and won in the end. The Jaguars didn’t play a bad game…they just got beat by the smarter, more patient team.
The Jaguars are on their way to a potential AFC South title or just a wild card. They are a good team getting zero respect. Another team with no respect, the Rams, beat them at their home in what should be a shockwave to the NFL and warrant all kinds of Rams-based stories because these are two heavyweight prizefighters in the NFL…instead, the whole thing is virtually ignored. These teams aren’t sexy enough yet and the football media is too busy trying to tell us who did and didn’t stand for the National Anthem.
Folks, the Rams are beyond for real in 2017. They are going to be the power in the NFC/NFL for years under Sean McVay.
The Jags are really good too, but have Blake Bortles and Doug Marrone…the anthesis of McVay-Goff…so, sorry about your luck Jags.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Jared Goff’s (11-21 for 124 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) numbers in this game look paultry, but I have to tell you the tape says he was brilliant. I’ve been crowing about Goff for several weeks now, but I just want to note two things from this game…
1: Goff took several hits from the Jags great pass rush in this game, 9 QB hits…3 sacks. He bounced right back up and kept firing. He was unflappable. He is so Tom Brady it’s ridiculous.
2: Most impressive…the Jags are a team you shouldn’t challenge the CBs downfield on. They’re too good. Not Goff…and not being dumb, blindly throwing it either. Goff is like a Brady-esque assassin. He finds the proper matchups and fires bullets. Even his incompletions are great.
Goff faced a top defense that was popping him and pressuring him and he took the hits, slid around subtly in the pocket and made smart throws and never backed down. I am totally blown away with what I see from Goff right now.
He just faced Jacksonville and Seattle and had so-so output. They are two top pass defenses in the NFL…#1 and #3 in QB rating allowed against them this season. Goff survived them…actually, he took it at them.
I think Jared Goff breaks out from here and could be the shock NFL and fantasy QB of the 2017 season from this point on. Not just because ‘next Brady’ and all that, but that’s part of it. I think it’s two things coming together…
1: Sean McVay is anti-Doug Marrone, Mike Zimmer, etc. – he is going to throw when given the opportunity…not just trying to win by getting a 1st quarter lead and then trying to run up the middle for the next 45 minutes to run the clock out.
The Rams are the #1 scoring team in the NFL this season…#1 in PPG scored…29.8 per game. Ahead of KC, Houston, New Orleans, and New England. This is despite the tough schedule. This is despite at least 2 TDs taken away by bad luck in the Seattle game. The Rams are new-age not old-age.
2: I am going to list the ROS opponents for Goff by their passing yards per game allowed ranking…26, BYE, 25, 10, 14, 28, 26, 29, 9, 18. No top 5 pass defenses to face the rest of the season, but half of them versus bottom 10 pass defenses.
The schedule + McVay + Goff = magic ahead, I think.
-- There was something so wonderful, so ‘special’ about the way this game opened. The Rams take back the opening kickoff for a TD. I’m like – “See, I told you the Rams would win as road dogs!” The Jags first play from scrimmage – Leonard Fournette (21-130-1) took the first carry off tackle and ran it for a 75-yard score to tie the game. Two amazing plays to start a game.
Here’s the thing… Fournette is monster-sized and he ran this first play off-tackle and then ran through/past like three defenders. At his size, he shouldn’t be able to do that – just flat out outsprints defensive backs. He’s amazing.
I will say it again – There is David Johnson and then there is Leonard Fournette and then there is Le’Veon Bell…and then there is a LOOOOOOONG drop off to the next contenders for top RB in the NFL. Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon are not in the same universe as Leonard Fournette.
-- OK, my speculated Tavon Austin (2-0-0) uprising fell a little flat…two carries, not six (like the past two weeks) and no targets. We took a flyer chance…you are dismissed from carrying it around for another week. Struck out looking. I’m OK with good touches and low output but the touches dried up fast here when I would have expected to see a few more in a game like this.
-- Robert Woods (5-70-0/7) is trying to become Jared Goff’s ‘guy’ over Cooper Kupp (2-35-0/3). Three weeks ago, against Dallas, Woods had a so-so game. If you ignore that and look back at Woods’ last three games (ignoring Week 4 v. DAL) – 5.3 catches, 81.3 yards and 0.0 TDs per game.
Finding the #1 WR on a team about to take off as a passing group is critical. The #2 WR wouldn’t be so bad either if this team starts airing it out.
Last 4 games…
4.5 rec. (7.0 targets), 51.8 yards, 0.0 TDs per game = Woods
3.0 rec. (5.3 targets), 39.0 yards, 0.25 TDs per game = Kupp
2.0 rec. (3.3 targets), 33.5 yards, 0.50 TDs per game = Watkins
I thought Kupp was emerging as ‘the guy’…but the data say it is Woods. Watching this game felt like it was Woods. Goff would have more time spent with Woods than any of the other WRs this season.
-- Sorry, I have to mention it – IDP DL Morgan Fox (2 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 1 FF) seems to make an IDP play every week (a sack, a TFL, etc.). Ignored for a couple of years now, but is seeing some playing time with LAR and now has 2.5 sacks on the season. We’re keeping an eye on him to see if he gets more playing time…the more time the more numbers he’ll push.
I’m a fan of his as a UDFA rookie in 2016 out of Colorado State-Pueblo. He has a superior knack for getting into the backfield as a DT.
-- I’ve hit the Rams-DST ‘sleeper’ theme hard enough the past few days. I think you’re all aware of the emergence potential.
I benched the Jags defense last week and didn’t talk as much about them because I knew what most experts didn’t, and still don’t – the Rams have a great team and Jared Goff is the next Tom Brady and it is happening right now. So, of course, the Jags had a so-so fantasy week. It should’ve been obvious.
Well, now it’s ‘game on’. You can use Jacksonville for defense for the rest of the season except during their Week 8 BYE. I don’t care if Andrew Luck is back Week 13 or not, and Houston in Week 15…bring on Deshaun Watson versus this defense. By then the Watson story will have cooled.
So many things to consider improving your fantasy team right now…having the Jaguars DST on your team is a massive move and probably a cheap one to acquire if you had to go that route. Instead of guessing which WR3 might be a WR1-2 hopeful…why not get the guaranteed money of the Jacksonville Jaguars DST?
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