Beating the 49ers was pretty amazing. It was a single victorious event worthy of celebration. And it sounds like everyone did that, but its time to put the happy pills away. The problem with this win (if there is such a thing) is that it’s not repeatable. Meaning, the method by which we won is not game-planable. Our offense only scored 2 field goals. The remaining scores were either a fluke (a safety call that really wasn’t a safety) or a single muffed play that we’ll never see again. I think we can have a prolonged celebration on how our defense has played. Their accumulation of 34 sacks and 12 interceptions have kept the Rams from drowning.
Over the years I have noticed a certain psychology (win/loss patterns) regarding how different levels of NFL teams play.
1 Bottom of the barrel teams (BBT) – These teams excel at finding ways to lose (2011 Rams). There may be games where they put up a good effort and even string together a succession of good plays/drives, but in the end they almost always figure out a way to lose. Usually, this happens via a turnover occurring (regularly) at the worst time possible.
2 Bad, but improving teams (BBIT) – This is where I currently slot the Rams and they are in a pretty interesting group. These teams tend to lose to other bad teams, but not BBT teams. This is where they are exposed. Playing a bad team doesn’t garner any extra emotional effort or pregame training so they come out and play pretty much at a natural (poor) level. These teams often get blown out and embarrassed by elite teams and are fodder under their feet. BBIT teams are not talentless teams; to move from category 1 to category 2 they have signed (young) high draft picks and maybe a few big name free agents. This type can often play above their talent level when playing a better opponent. They can have games where they can play like super bowl champions, but they are ultimately inconsistent and cannot keep up the effort level.
3 Good Teams (GT) – These teams manage to get the best out of their schedule. They beat most of the poor teams, win a couple of big games, and seem to be regularly on the cusp of making the playoffs. These teams need an influx of capital to get a few extra elite players to propel them over the edge.
4 Very Good Teams (VGT) – I slot the SF 49ers here. They might have a few cores issues that need to be addressed, but fundamentally they are strong and beat up on a lot of opponents. These teams make it to the playoffs, but without solutions to their core issues (QB) they are unable to dominate throughout the playoffs and come up short of a championship.
5 Championship Teams (CT) – No real explanation needed here. These teams typically have great owners who are committed to having winning organizations. They are good at recognizing talent and getting the most out of it (at both a coaching and a player level).
(Then there are the NY Giants. I’m not quite sure where to put them. I guess they are the required exception to the rule lol.)
Ok, getting back to the Rams… this coming week we play the 5-7 Buffalo Bills. They are also in the bad, but improving group. This past Sunday they beat a very bad Jaguars team (2-10) as they should have. So, let’s look at some ranking information to see if either team has a real advantage:
At a high level… if the Rams can shut down the Bills running game (aka RB CJ Spiller) and impose our own against their poorly ranked rush defense, then we should be able to win, but the outcome could go either way. Since we are coming off such a big win, I’m going to say the momentum should carry us threw.
So what is the point of all this? (Other than me having a lot of fun?) The point is the Rams are performing pretty much as expected. As fans we should enjoy the highs, but be rational and understand we are really a rebuilding team. We have 4 games remaining in the regular season against teams our caliber or better. If we get a majority of the games in the win column, then we have exceeded regular behavior and will have surpassed my expectations. When that happens… then the party is on. We’ll celebrate long and hard. go Rams!!!