Week 9: Rams Bye Week
Twice already this season, a team in the NFC West has gone into the bye in second place, and come out of the bye in first. Seattle was the first team to pull off that trick, helped out by the Rams' gut-wrenching last-minute loss in Tampa. But lady karma, they say, she is a fickle and ill-tempered mistress.
The Seahawks, their roster decimated by injuries, had their vaunted home field advantage erased in the game's first minutes, falling behind 21-0 before the foam could settle on their fans' mocha frappucinos. It did not get better from there, falling 41 to 7 in the second-most embarrassing outcome of the week. (Truly, though, no one will notice or care outside of the Emerald City, while the vultures circle in Dallas.)
The Arizona Cardinals had a chance to jump into the improbable three-way share of first place, but somehow could not complete their assisted suicide of the Vikings, nor prevent the corpse of Brett Favre from jumping off the slab and willing his ashen team to another entry in his "miraculous victory" file.
Now the Rams sit atop the division standings, holding a tie-breaker advantage and 40 net points over the Seahawks, but only two games separate them from the last-place 49ers, the team next on the Rams' schedule. With an uphill, road-heavy climb in the second half of the season, the Rams nevertheless have control of their fate in their hands. It might be fair to say that the Rams have been the most consistent and perhaps the best team in the division, but now they have to prove it.
How many victories do they have left on the schedule? How long can the Rams' defense continue to outperform their projection? How much more room for immediate growth is there in Sam Bradford's offense? Can we finish the season without any more gruesome season-ending injuries to our wide receivers? Can we win a game on the road?
All questions to be answered in due course. But for today, the Rams can celebrate a victory Monday without even taking the field.