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Rams’ Defensive Makeover Shaping A Super Bowl Contender

The Los Angeles Rams were the surprise of the 2017 NFL season, becoming one of the best and most exciting teams in the NFL. Expectations were sky-high at the end of last season but the Rams now hold the fourth-best odds to win Super Bowl 53 after their aggressive offseason.  

Les Snead has no intention of letting this team rest on its laurels, as the Rams general manager has gone full Madden franchise mode this offseason. 

The Rams acquired a pair of former Pro Bowl corners in Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib for next to nothing, then signed Ndamukong Suh to a one-year deal. Adding that trio to an already loaded defense that features Aaron Donald, Lamarcus Joyner and horribly underrated John Johnson could make it the best defense in the NFL.

But, of course, there is a reason Peters, Talib and Suh all came relatively cheaply. All three of those players are head cases with plenty of rumored personality issues in the locker room. Peters wore out his welcome in Kansas City after infamously throwing a referee’s flag into the crowd, Talib has long been known for his brash behavior both on and off the field and Suh was cut from the Dolphins – despite being one of the best defensive tackles in football – because he was too much to deal with behind the scenes.   

Yes, all three are incredibly talented but can that many egos survive in one locker room – let alone one in the city of Los Angeles?

We don’t know, but if any coaching duo can theoretically make it work, it is the tandem of Sean McVay and Wade Phillips. It has not taken long for players around the league to legitimately want to play for McVay even though he’s the youngest coach in NFL history. The offensive wunderkind relates to players on a level that no other coach in the NFL can. Then there is the 70-year-old Phillips, who – aside from being one of the best defensive minds of his generation – has a long-standing history of getting former problem players to play to their maximum potential.

The Rams defense is basically a box of dynamite. The destructive force is undeniable when harnessed properly but you need to correct people planting the charges or it will blow up in their faces. We don’t know yet if McVay and Phillips are the right tandem to handle all the combustive elements but there is no duo in the NFL I would trust more right now.

That’s only the defense, though. The Rams featured one of the top offenses in the NFL last season thanks to McVay’s scheming, Jared Goff’s growth and Todd Gurley’s overall excellence. Yeah, they need to replace the production of Sammy Watkins but the Rams still have Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp at receiver – plus a wealth of young potential pass-catchers.

The Rams legitimately look like one of the best teams in football. Unlike previous teams that acquired a bunch of older talent in the past, the Rams are mixing veterans with a young core that has already proven it can compete with the best. Nobody wins a Super Bowl in the offseason but the Rams have convinced more than a few people that they have their sights set on the Lombardi Trophy this season.

Odds to win Super Bowl 53
New England Patriots+500
Philadelphia Eagles+850
Minnesota Vikings+900
Los Angeles Rams+1200
Pittsburgh Steelers+1200
San Francisco 49ers+1200
Green Bay Packers+1400
New Orleans Saints+2000
Atlanta Falcons+2200
Jacksonville Jaguars+2200
Houston Texans+2200
Oakland Raiders+2200
Denver Broncos+2500
Seattle Seahawks+2800
Dallas Cowboys+2800
Carolina Panthers+3300
Kansas City Chiefs+3300
Los Angeles Chargers+3300
Baltimore Ravens+5000
Tennessee Titans+5000
Detroit Lions+5000
Tampa Bay Buccaneers+5000
New York Giants+5000
Indianapolis Colts+6000
Washington Redskins+6600
Buffalo Bills+6600
Arizona Cardinals+6600
Cleveland Browns+6600
Miami Dolphins+7000
Chicago Bears+8000
Cincinnati Bengals+9000
New York Jets+10000

Odds as of March 28 at Bovada

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Although they came out on the losing end of yet another incredibly dramatic Super Bowl, the New England Patriots opened as the favorite to win Super Bowl 53. Oddsmakers have them pencilled in at +600, which is a much more profitable number than where they opened to win Super Bowl 52, at +325.

The Patriots will have a slightly different look to start the 2018 season, at least on the sidelines, as defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has departed to assume the head coaching duties in Detroit. The core of the team is expected to remain intact and they’ll once again have the luxury of playing in one of the league’s weakest divisions.

The Philadelphia Eagles, who I guess you could say rebounded tremendously after Carson Wentz’ season-ending injury, have the second-best odds at +650. Led by Wentz, the Eagles were bulldozing their way through the NFL for most of the 2017 season and, to the surprise of many, went on to win the Super Bowl, winning three playoff games as an underdog with Nick Foles filling in. Expect Philly to be back in contention in 2018 and if they pick up where they left off with Wentz under center, that +650 price tag will drop significantly.

The Green Bay Packers, whose 2017 season basically became a writeoff after Aaron Rodgers went down with an injury, have the third-best odds to win Super Bowl 53 at +1000. Prior to this season, the Packers made the playoffs in eight straight years, but they’ve appeared in the Super Bowl just once during that span.

A surprise team that made its way into the top 10 on the oddsboard is the San Francisco 49ers, whose odds stand at +1600. The team did a complete 180 once Jimmy Garoppolo was inserted into the starting lineup, winning five straight games to close out the season, after going 1-10 in the first 11 games.

Here’s a complete pre-draft, pre-free agency look at the Super Bowl 53 oddsboard:

Odds to win Super Bowl 53
New England Patriots+600
Philadelphia Eagles+650
Green Bay Packers+1000
Pittsburgh Steelers+1400
Minnesota Vikings+1400
San Francisco 49ers+1600
Los Angeles Rams+1800
New Orleans Saints+1800
Jacksonville Jaguars+1800
Atlanta Falcons+2000
Dallas Cowboys+2000
Houston Texans+2500
Oakland Raiders+2500
Carolina Panthers+2500
Seattle Seahawks+2500
Kansas City Chiefs+3000
Los Angeles Chargers+3300
Denver Broncos+3300
Indianapolis Colts+4000
Baltimore Ravens+4000
Tampa Bay Buccaneers+5000
Arizona Cardinals+5000
Tennessee Titans+5000
Detroit Lions+5000
New York Giants+5000
Washington Redskins+5000
Miami Dolphins+6600
New York Jets+6600
Chicago Bears+6600
Cincinnati Bengals+6600
Buffalo Bills+6600
Cleveland Browns+10000

Odds as of February 7 at Bovada