The Los Angeles Rams hold a 10-win Over/Under per BetOnline sportsbook, as of May 5th, 2021. Having the league’s best defense along with trading for Matthew Stafford has put faith into a lot of bookmakers regarding one of the NFL’s most underrated teams.
Now, the Rams can capitalize on this, and they have an extra game to encroach their Over/Under mark.
But can they beat it, or are they a better bet for the under?
The Rams have remained inconsistent from year to year, and they’re putting faith in the aging Matthew Stafford, who heads into his 13th season. In the twilight of his career, Stafford must lead the Rams to what he’s rarely done in the past – attain 11 wins. In fact, he’s done so just once.
Let’s see if the Rams are capable.
State of the Los Angeles Rams Roster
You make the call on Stafford. He’s aging, and as mentioned in the intro, he’s never won over 11 games in his career. He attained an 11-5 record once, and it occurred in 2014.
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Stafford has never won a playoff game, and he’s been injury-prone over the past 3 seasons. However, perhaps Stafford never played for such a talented team. In LA, he has a decent running back combo with Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson.
DeSean Jackson is another aging player capable of making noise at receiver. But the Rams also have Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Tyler Higbee in the pass-catching unit. Jackson supplements it, along with Van Jefferson.
We don’t need to touch on the team’s defense. They were the best in the league in 2020, and defensive tackle Aaron Donald remains the top defensive player in football. Funnily enough, corner Jalen Ramsey may clock in as the second-best in the game.
Ramsey doesn’t put up eye-popping numbers. You don’t need to when you can shut down your corner of the field, hence the name ‘shutdown corner.’
What amazed me about the Rams in 2020 was their ability to play well on defense with a new set of pass rushers. One of whom comprised draft bust Leonard Floyd, who resurrected his career in the City of Angels.
Los Angeles Rams Strengths
With one of the league’s best rosters comes a coaching staff that has stood the test of time. Sure, they lost Brandon Staley to their stadium-buddy, the Los Angeles Chargers. But Sean McVay and his systems remain. So expect the Rams to pick up where they left off a year ago.
As mentioned, the Rams have arguably the 2 best defensive players in the league in Donald and Ramsey. They’re so good that the team can fill much of the starting lineup with role players, making little difference. If Donald and Ramsey remain healthy, the Rams’ defense remains the best in football.
Flip over to offense, and you got 3 dynamic pass catchers with Kupp, Woods, and Higbee. The Rams will remain a threat to take their Over/Under and more if these 3 also suit up for all 17 games.
Overall, the Rams have strengths on both sides of the field, and it makes them one of the NFL’s most complete teams. From their deep roster all the way to their coaching staff, which also has Super Bowl experience.
You’re looking at one of the NFL’s strongest teams and perhaps the NFC’s best. And yes, that counts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 2021 dark horse, the Washington Football Team.
Los Angeles Rams Weaknesses
Like all NFL teams, even those with as lofty Over/Under expectations as the Los Angeles Rams, weaknesses remain aplenty.
Despite Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson experiencing success in 2020, both have an injury history. We should also note that the duo didn’t play exceptionally well for most of the season.
We don’t know if their success, especially Akers’, was a fluke or the real thing. Akers didn’t overachieve in college, which further raises red flags. And Henderson has remained injury-prone throughout his NFL career.
Yeah, he’s one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time to have never won a division title or a playoff game. Yet, anyway. He’s the 2021 version of Archie Manning; a great quarterback who had the misfortune of playing for a poor franchise.
And as mentioned earlier, the injuries finally piled up. The Lions’ ineptitude took its toll on Stafford as he aged. Now we must ask ourselves whether Stafford can continue to play at a high level. In 2018 and 2020, he didn’t exactly light up the league.
In 2019, he was on his way to a 38-touchdown and 5,000-passing yard season before a back injury sidelined him for the season. However, he is just 14-25-1 over the past 3 seasons and isn’t getting any younger. Sure, he’s got the most talented team of his career surrounding him.
But is it too little, too late?
Then, we must look at who his left tackle is.
Andrew Whitworth is one of the best to have ever played the game, with 4 Pro Bowl appearances and 3 All-Pros. However, he turns 40 in December, and 2021 will be his 16th season. If age takes its toll, it won’t just hurt the offense; you can bet that Stafford won’t make it through a 17-game season.
Los Angeles Rams Schedule
The Rams sit at 10-win favorites to win the NFC West, with the Over/Unders for the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers coming in at just 10 wins for theirs. The Arizona Cardinals, our perpetual divisional fodder (the Lions of the West), sits at 8 wins.
As you can see from those numbers, the NFC West is far and away the league’s best division. Each team has improved, and it means the Rams must keep pace with all 3 talented teams. Even those Cardinals. Unfortunately for the Rams, they play 6 of their 17 games against the West.
They also play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, and Baltimore Ravens. All but one made the playoffs in 2020, and the one who didn’t has contended more often than not in recent seasons. The Rams have their work cut out for them.
As for the West, the Seahawks made the playoffs, and had the Cardinals beaten the Rams in Week 17, they too would have made the playoffs. The San Francisco 49ers were a great team with a bad record. And you can blame the injury bug for that one.
The Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, New York Giants, and Jacksonville Jaguars are going, nowhere. Ditto for the Chicago Bears, who signed Andy Dalton at quarterback to pose as a single-season stopgap.
Expect the Rams to at least break even in the division with their talent, barring a rash of injuries. And if they break even against 2020s playoff teams, it places them at 6-6. They should defeat the non-playoff teams (plus the Bears) to finish 11-6, but everyone has a bad game, so it’s easy to expect at least one loss.
Above is a very conservative estimate, which leads to our last section.
Can the Rams Beat Their Over/Under
Using a conservative model, as shown above, the jury is out on the Rams. Worst-case scenario is that they finish .500 in the division and the playoff teams plus the Vikings, which puts them at 6-6. They have one bad game against the non-playoff teams plus the Bears and finish 10-7, putting them Under.
Or, they finish 4-2 in the division and 4-2 against the playoff teams plus the Vikings, putting them at 8-4. They sweep the teams they should beat and finish 13-4, well above their projected 10-game Over/Under.
Expect the Rams to threaten the Over, but the worst-case scenario has them falling short. However, they’re a talented football team that can take the next step and improve on their 10-6 record in 2020.
It’s all about how you perceive the Rams and if Matthew Stafford can take them somewhere he’s never been before. If you think he can, consider the Over. But if you think it’s the same old Matthew Stafford, look toward the Under.
Ultimately, it’s up to you, and it’s impossible to see what the future holds. Go with your intuition.
The Los Angeles Rams have among the highest projected Over/Under projections in the NFL for 2021. They proved in 2020 that they’re one of the most talented teams, and they believe the addition of Matthew Stafford will get them over the hump. If that’s the case, they make for a solid Over bet in the NFL betting sites.
However, Stafford has never even won the division. And if you don’t believe he’s capable of doing so in his old age, and time is running out, the Rams fare better for the Under. Especially given their tough schedule.
What are your thoughts on the Rams? Do they make a better Over, or Under bet? Tell us your thoughts in the comments and we look forward to reading your opinion.