St. Louis Rams fans have a bright 2013 to look forward to, despite their team’s absence from the 2012 postseason. St. Louis is in the rare position of—barring an unlikely second tie this season—being unable to finish the NFL’s 16-game schedule with a .500 record.
Plenty of teams with polarized records can say the same thing heading into Week 17, but the Rams are .500: The team is 7-7-1. St. Louis is overwhelmingly likely to finish 7-8-1 or 8-7-1 and it has already been mathematically eliminated from the NFC playoff picture. Week 17 has little meaning to the young squad other than pride—and, potentially, the final game for veteran running back Steven Jackson in a Rams uniform.
Although rumors of Jackson’s departure from the team via trade have been swirling as early as April and the Rams allowed Jackson to void the final year of his contract, St. Louis did not trade away its franchise running back. Given that his services were coveted by other teams, the Rams showed some level of commitment to Jackson by not sending him off for whatever they could get in return.
It appears that the feeling is mutual; Jackson intends to finish his career in St. Louis.
Because of a trade that allowed the Washington Redskins to select Pro Bowl quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Rams have two first-round selections in the upcoming NFL draft with which to further solidify their roster. There’s reason for optimism regarding the results of the future picks, too: Rookies from all over the Rams’ draft board have made positive impacts on the team this season.
St. Louis has secured a winning record in its own division, as it is currently undefeated in the NFC West (4-0-1). It won by an average of 9.25 points in two games against the Arizona Cardinals and one each against the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
It also tied the NFC West-leading 49ers in San Francisco.
Whether or not the Rams can knock off the Seahawks in Seattle—no one else has—St. Louis has a point of pride in that it dominated its division in 2012. At worst, it would be 4-1-1: a .750 in-division winning percentage. At best, it would be 5-0-1: a .917 in-division mark.
All of the other NFC West squads have multiple losses to their division.
For more St. Louis Rams analysis, follow Jamal on Twitter: Follow @StatManJ