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Strengths: It’s amazing what a franchise-caliber quarterback can do for a team. At this time a season ago, the Rams were languishing along with Keith Null under center, well on their way to a 1-15 record and the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
But things could not have worked out any better. Sam Bradford has injected life into the fan base and the entire organization, and his play, which has belied his youth, is the single-most reason St. Louis is on the brink of the clinching its first postseason berth since 2004.
Weaknesses: There are plenty, and although the Rams have done a respectable job of concealing them all season long, the competition that awaits in the playoffs won’t be so accommodating. In addition to a defensive line that can’t sustain consistent pressure, injuries have decimated an already weak secondary, and better offenses in the league have exposed each of these flaws.
The Rams have also been done in by a lack of playmakers at receiver, putting undue pressure on Bradford and Steven Jackson.
Remaining Schedule: San Francisco, at Seattle
Reasoning: As a Rams fan, I will be the first one to admit that the Rams probably don’t deserve to make the playoffs, at least not at a higher seeding than, say, New Orleans. The way things look now, either Kansas City or San Diego — two teams who will finish with better records than the Rams — will miss the playoffs while St. Louis takes full advantage of the NFL’s unfair seeding policy.
Nevertheless, if the Rams hold on to win the NFC West, whether it’s at 7-9 or 8-8, they’re in. And the manner in which they got to the playoffs won’t diminish the turnaround staged by Steve Spagnuolo and his staff.