After winning just two games last season, the St. Louis Rams have already exceeded their 2011 win total and the season hasn't even reached the halfway point.
The Rams have won only 15 total games in the previous five seasons, so naturally some fans are satisfied with the status quo, even if it's still average. But other fans dare to dream of football in January.
The Rams haven't seen postseason play since the 2004 season and they haven't come close since 2010, when they missed the playoffs by one game.
The Rams' seven-season playoff drought is the longest among NFC teams and the fourth longest in the NFL, behind only Oakland, Cleveland and Buffalo, so the fans are eager to see postseason action once again, regardless of how unrealistic the notion is.
At this point, with only three wins and four losses, the Rams are looking at six to eight wins. Sure, it's a massive improvement over recent years, but it makes them a long shot for the playoffs.
What can the Rams do to create even more success in the second half of the season? What will push them over the edge into double-digit win territory?
Win on the Road
This is absolute basic stuff right here. It's Textbook 101 on how to become a playoff team. If the Rams want to save their season, they need to win on the road.
Despite their home loss to Green Bay, we know the Rams can win at home, but they have yet to put together a road win.
Road trip struggles was the exact thing that kept them out of the playoffs in 2010, and it will have an equal effect in 2012 if the team can't correct it immediately.
Even if the Rams win all their remaining home games—including their "home game" against the Patriots in London—it will only be good for seven total wins. They need to generate two or three road wins in order to get into the playoff discussion, and with only five road games remaining it's undoubtedly a difficult task.
Get Sam Bradford Rolling
The Rams have a solid defense, but guess what? So does every NFC West team.
St. Louis needs a unique advantage, something their rivals don't have. And what could possibly spark the team in the second half more than Sam Bradford finally playing up to his potential?
Every NFC West team can play defense, but none of them have a scary quarterback. The first team in the division to get Pro Bowl quality production at the position will run away with the title.
Bradford needs to cut back on interceptions. He needs to start putting together 300-yard and three-touchdown games, and he needs to make it look easy.
True, he'll need better support from the offense to get it done, but then again, he'll also need to rely less on the same tired excuses.
Beat San Francisco
Not only once, but twice.
It's a tall order, there's no denying that, but there's not a single thing the Rams can do that would help their playoff chances more than two victories over the division favorites.
What aspect is most vital for a second half surge?
Nothing will even out the NFC West landscape more than the top team in the division dropping two games to the team that was expected to finish in dead last.
If this can happen, it truly is anyone's division to win.
Keep the Veterans in Place
If the price is fair, moving Steven Jackson might be solid for future building, as long as you can overlook the emotional attachment. But for this season, it would hurt their chances.
Daryl Richardson is averaging 5.1 yards per carry compared to Jackson's 3.8, so the assumption is that Richardson can step up as a capable full-time starter.
Although, some people are overlooking the possibility that perhaps Richardson is only capable of that production on a limited basis. He has yet to exceed 15 carries a game and we don't know how he'll look when the ground game is placed squarely on his shoulders.
Also, Jackson is basically the only veteran leader on offense. It's hard to imagine an offensive surge in the second half without Jackson's leadership playing a keystone role.
If you want to write off this season and build for the future, then shipping Jackson away is not the end of the world. But if the Rams want to win this year, it's not an option.