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Week 5 Preview: Don't Sleep On The Rams

Posted Jul 3, 2014

Don't let the Rams' 7-9 2013 record fool you, this is a dangerous team heading into the 2014 season. For starters, consider that the Rams won those seven games while playing in the league's best division - the NFC West. While the Rams went 1-5 against the Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals, they won six of 10 from the rest of the league. Couple that with their pair of first-round picks in offensive tackle Greg Robinson and defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and the Rams seem well set for the future.

The question mark for the Rams remains at quarterback, though, where former first-overall pick Sam Bradford is still trying to establish himself as a dependable franchise player. Bradford was playing well in 2013, his fourth year in the league, before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 7. Though the team was 3-4, Bradford threw 14 touchdowns versus only four interceptions in those games, by far the best ratio of his career. His 90.9 quarterback rating was also a career high.

The Rams have also done all they can to help Bradford and the offense, adding the dynamic Tavon Austin in the draft last season, along with running back Zac Stacy, who emerged as a viable starter. Austin was finally given a chance to shine in the final four weeks of the season, when he totaled 346 yards from scrimmage. Over the season's first 12 games, he only accounted for 223 such yards. Stacy, meanwhile, was solid, though unspectacular, in rushing for 973 yards on 3.9 yards per carry.

The Rams' strength, though, is on defense, specifically in their pass rush. The Rams' 53 sacks ranked third in the league, thanks to a breakout seasons from former first-round pick Robert Quinn, who finished second in the league with 19.0 sacks on his own. Another pair of former first-round picks, Chris Long and Michael Brockers, finished second and third, respectively, in sacks on the team with 8.5 and 5.5. Now, the Rams have another weapon up front in Donald, an All-America selection who had 11.0 sacks and 28.5 tackles for loss last season for the Pitt Panthers.

Meanwhile, the Rams' linebackers are talented and athletic enough to chase LeSean McCoy and the Eagles' running backs across the field, thanks to James Laurinaitis in the middle and 2013 first-round pick Alec Ogletree returning for his second season. In the secondary, Janoris Jenkins is one of the better young playmakers at cornerback in the league, though he does get burned on occasion.

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