Last week Peter Schrager made a salient observation. The Los Angeles Rams are the NFL's version of the Brooklyn Nets, amassing as much top-tier talent as financially possible and putting all eggs in the most immediate of baskets. That followed the surprising addition of vaunted pass-rusher Von Miller. Yesterday, Sean McVay and Les Snead won the Odell Beckham sweepstakes, bringing in another prolific offensive weapon for Matthew Stafford to utilize. It should have been abundantly clear the franchise was all in for 2021 before the acquisition but they helpfully bolded the text.
Beckham's final acts in both New York and Cleveland highlight the downsides of mercurial talent. Complaints about not getting the football frequently enough or in positions to excel were made public. Yet his decision to jump aboard a team more than capable of winning a Super Bowl suggests he's content to prioritize winning — for now — more than personal accomplishment. Whether he blends in and thrives in greener pastures remains to be seen.
We don't need to see anymore, though, to realize that the Rams are not only talented enough to hoist the Lombardi. We can understand that failure to do so will be exactly that: a massive failure. It's tough to read Conor Orr's piece painting L.A. as an inevitability and disagree. They are following the path blazed by last year's champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and stifling all available oxygen for opposing teams, perhaps forcing them all to reconsider an additional move to keep up with the Joneses.
My feelings on Stafford are well-known. Predicting he'd win a Super Bowl on the West Coast did not feel like a stretch at the time and now feels well within reach if he plays at the level he's played week in and week out through his entire career. Tom Brady and those Bucs are the most trustworthy obstacle standing in the way, along with upstart Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers. Clean football from here on out can land them the NFC's only bye and the clearest path. It's my belief they will emerge with the No. 1 seed, making the task of dispatching an ageless 44-year-old, a 37-year-old artist or a 24-year-old streaking comet more reasonable.
The AFC is a constant game of Are We Sure They're Good. Baltimore is getting thumped by Miami. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have significant problems. Josh Allen and the Bills have come back to Earth. Tennessee must piece it together without Derrick Henry. There are clear flaws for each of these contenders.
This year is surprisingly wide-open. Even better for the team with the most talent on paper. If not this year, then when? Now, Stafford is a cerebral player whose prowess has never been totally driven by athleticism so there's real optimism his game ages like a fine wine. Yet chances to summit the mountain come along so infrequently that they must be taken.
And there's something freeing in accepting the pressure, as Los Angeles has done. They've made the pronouncement that it's Super Bowl-or-bust and aren't running from it. They know the score and the stakes and pressure can either break pipes or create diamonds.
It's a plan so simple it just may work. Field the best team at all costs and see what happens. High-risk but high-reward.