Halfway through the 2018 season, the Los Angeles Rams have put the entire NFL world on notice. Sitting at 8-0, the Rams are looking to become the first teams since the 2007 New England Patriots to go undefeated during the regular season. Although those Patriots eventually lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, in one of the biggest upsets in sports history, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and company cemented their status as one of the best teams ever.
However, the 1972 Miami Dolphins may still lay claim to the best team ever. In a then-14-game regular season, they went undefeated and ended the year by winning the Super Bowl over the Washington Redskins. That Don Shula-led Dolphins team remains the only team to ever run the table for the entire season.
The 2018 Rams will be looking to follow the dominant blueprint of the Patriots, and they have every reason to think they can make a run like the 1972 Dolphins did. Talent-wise, this Rams squad is one of the best I’ve ever seen and may just be better than those Patriots and Dolphins teams. They currently have the best running back in the league in Todd Gurley, as well as the best young coach in Sean McVay. Furthermore, third-year quarterback Jared Goff has shown tremendous strides as a pocket passer. With the security of Gurley behind him, Goff can exploit defenses with the play-action passes to their stellar receiving core of Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods.
There is no denying that the Rams boast one of the best offenses in league. That alone would carry many teams throughout the year. Yet, it’s their defense that completes this team and separates them from the rest of the pack.
The Rams have the most star-studded defenses in NFL history. This past offseason, they unloaded the Brink’s truck to ensure this. They signed All-Pro Ndamukong Suh and then resigned the defensive player of the year in Aaron Donald to the biggest defensive contract ever. This ensured they’d have two great defensive linemen to attack the opposing quarterback. As for the secondary, they signed All-Pro corners Sam Shields and Marcus Peters to cover the backfield. Although the Rams defense isn’t as good as it could be, ranking 15th in Total Defense, it is good enough to hold opposing teams below their own offense. Moreover, they just traded for their former first-round pick Dante Fowler, in exchange for two future draft picks. Fowler’s presence was much-needed, as the Rams linebackers had been struggling through the first half of the season.
With an offense and defense this loaded, the Rams have very good reason to believe they can go 16-0. However, their schedule is about to get very dicey over the next seven weeks. After barely surviving the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers, the Rams will be highly tested by even better opponents in the weeks to come. Coming up first, they have a big road trip to New Orleans Saints and their high-powered offense. Drew Brees, the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader, will be looking to take advantage of the middle-of-the-pack Rams defense. If they can survive this testy Week 9 battle, then they’ll have even more reason to believe they can go undefeated. The Saints aren’t necessarily scared either.
After facing the Saints, the Rams will play the Seattle Seahawks and then the Kansas City Chiefs, both in Los Angeles. The Chiefs game may very well be a preview of this year’s Super Bowl, and may be the biggest threat to their undefeated campaign. If the Rams were able to make it through this ultra-though three-game stretch, then they’ll have had made it to their bye week still without a loss. After their Week 12 bye, they’ll face another torrid three-game stretch, when they travel to face the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, before returning home for a huge matchup against the defending-champion Philadelphia Eagles.
There is no doubt that if the Rams want to make history, they’ll have to earn it. Luckily for them, they end the season facing their hapless division rivals in the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. Therefore, it is imperative that they sweep their way through the next six games if they want to go undefeated in the regular season. They certainly have the pieces to do so; it’s just a matter of executing week-in and week-out, which is very hard to do for an entire season.
Even if the Rams were to suffer a loss during the regular season, they would still be the favorites to win the Super Bowl. While winning a Super Bowl would be good enough, the Rams are looking to do it in style. They are gunning to do what the 2007 Patriots couldn’t do–go 19-0. While the 1972 Dolphins were able to go 17-0, it would be a much more impressive feat to go completely undefeated in the modern 16-game NFL season.
The 2018 Rams have a chance to be very special. Gurley is having an MVP-caliber season with 800 yards and 11 touchdowns through eight games. Meanwhile, Goff is flourishing under a second year of guidance from Coach McVay, who may be the first coach to win Coach of the Year two seasons in a row. With the tremendous triumphant of Goff, Gurley, and McVay leading the way, the future is very bright in Los Angeles. Yet, the present is even brighter, as the undefeated Rams will look to establish themselves as one of the best teams of all-time, especially if they go 16-0.