After a one-year absence from the playoffs, the Los Angeles Rams returned during the 2020 season. This occurred despite a lackluster campaign from Jared Goff, the team’s highly paid quarterback who garnered less-than-stellar remarks from head coach Sean McVay following the Rams’ divisional-round loss to the Green Bay Packers. A flurry of headlines followed, including a rather damning account from NFL Network’s Steve Wyche claiming McVay and Goff required “marriage counseling.”
That reconciliation never came. Instead, the Rams shipped Goff and multiple first-round draft picks to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford. The trade dramatically shifts expectations for the team, making 2021 a Super Bowl-or-bust season.
Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl 56 odds: +1300
While the Rams have made plenty of major moves in the personnel department in recent years, none represent a bigger swing than trading for Stafford less than two years after handing Goff a record-setting contract. Few teams would, in effect, make a public admission of such a massive mistake, but Los Angeles chose to accept reality and not go through another year undermanned at quarterback.
Stafford provides an upgrade over his predecessor. How much of an upgrade remains open to speculation. But if Stafford’s next chapter can mirror that of Carson Palmer — another former No. 1 overall pick long marooned on a bad team who rejuvenated his career in the NFC West — the Rams have legitimate title hopes. Even with Goff under center last season, the offense finished in the top 10 by DVOA. A best-case scenario for Stafford could see the unit challenge for the No. 1 spot given the talented supporting cast. Meanwhile, the defense returns most of the players that led Los Angeles to a No. 4 finish in DVOA. Few teams offer such strong balance and upside.
The Rams still play in a difficult division, and that challenge will likely hurt their chances at the No. 1 seed and a bye. Still, if the bet on Stafford works, the team could very realistically become the second in a row to reach a Super Bowl hosted in their home stadium.
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