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Rams Clinch NFC West for 2nd Year in a Row with Win vs. Lions

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2018

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay celebrates with quarterback Jared Goff (16) after a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)
Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Rams clinched the NFC West division title and a berth in the 2018 NFL playoffs Sunday with a 30-16 victory over the Detroit Lions.

Los Angeles Rams @RamsNFL

BACK-TO-BACK! NFC West Champs! 🙌 https://t.co/BZxcH5ndEf

The Rams' quick ascension to the NFC West title came through a combination of their own dominance, highlighted by their 11-1 record, and an unusually down year in a typically strong division. The Seattle Seahawks are the only other team with a winning record, and they are barely above .500 at 6-5.

It's the second consecutive finish atop the division for Los Angeles, which also beat out the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks with an 11-5 mark in 2017.

In early October, Rams players credited head coach Sean McVay for creating a culture where everybody is held to the same standard, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com.

"He'll raise his hand and say, 'Yeah, I F'd up, I put you all in a bad position. I'll fix it, I'll change it,'" defensive tackle Michael Brockers said. "When you have a coach like that, that's OK with taking that accountability and putting it on himself and being vocal with it outwardly, it allows everybody else to also man up."

Guard Rodger Saffold added, "We have it really good over here. Probably got it better than anyone around the league as far as just the way he takes care of his players and those types of things, then at the same time I feel like there's accountability here. We don't have vague boundaries. We have strict boundaries and you have to follow them."

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It's allowed a star-studded roster led by quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley II, defensive end Aaron Donald and even enigmatic defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to coexist peacefully without any hint of on-field turmoil or off-field drama.

Now, the key question is whether the Rams will be able to translate their regular-season success into a deep playoff run and potentially even a Super Bowl title.

Los Angeles suffered a 26-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in its first playoff game last season. Failing to win a postseason contest this time around would qualify as a major disappointment.

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