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At 6-4 after 17-7 Football of the week victory over the Chicago Bears, the Los Angeles Rams somehow remain in the playoff picture in the NH. But unlike 2018, Sheep don't look, feel, smell, sound or taste like a real contender.
And this is because they have regressive responsibility on the most important position of the sport.
Aredad Gough, who entered Sunday as the sixth lowest passer in the NHL rankings, completed just 11 passes against the Bears. Under his offense, Rams' offense managed only 13 first downs, three rebounds from third down and 17 points in a game that was closer than it looked.
Disillusioned Chicago failed to get the Rams to pay for two turnovers in the first quarter, the Bears failed to score on four of their five drives that crossed the 40-yard line from Los Angeles, and Aries couldn't back down from a struggling opponent. until it achieves a significant delay insurance by the end of the fourth quarter.
While victory is victory, this served as a reminder that it is not the Year of the Aries. Not with Gough, who has completed just 57 percent of his passes in the last six games.
Offoff was the Pro Bowler last season, and Aries averaged 32.9 points per game. But a strong defense led by defensive lineman Aaron Donald of the year, a stellar offensive line led by several highly accomplished veterans and a top-scoring leader in Russia Todd Gurley masked many shortcomings of the top pick in 2016.
Now, with that line in the woods as a result of departures and injuries and Gurley no longer as productive as a knee injury turns out, the limitations of Gough's glow were exposed. He did not throw a return pass from Week 8, and he is lucky to have had only three interceptions in the last two weeks.
Reims scored a total of 29 points in those two games. That is a milestone they have achieved in 13 of their 16 matches in 2018. Their strong offensive performances this year generally came against weak and / or vulnerable opponents. And while that was also the case last season – they scored just six points in Chicago, 23 in Denver and 23 at home against Philadelphia in 2018 – the trend became more extreme in 2019.
In three games played this season against opponents ranked in the top five in the Football Outsiders League with an Adjusted Defensive Average (DVAA), Offoff has zero touchdowns, a completion percentage of 55.4 and a minimum rating of 58.0 . Aries has an average of just 12 points in these three affairs.
This doesn't feel good for his or his team's chances next week against the Baltimore Ravens' reds and their increased, opportunistic defense, and they should also travel to San Francisco in December.
With a small minuscule margin of error in the NF-filled playoff race, those dynamics could leave the ruling champions at the margins conference in January.
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If Offoff and Coe did not abuse weak opponents such as the Tampa Bay, Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals in September and October, the numbers would be very abhorrent. But despite that, Goff's wide back shot, dating back to December, is in sight.
He entered that month last season with a 26-on-6 interception ratio, a completion percentage of 67.7 and a passer rating of 113.5. On 15 starts since then, he threw 17 touchdowns to 16 interceptions, completing 59.9 percent of his throws, and his passer rating was 79.7.
During what was essentially a full season, he was one of the worst in the NHL. He is a discreet and unreliable deep passer who is comically inaccurate under pressure and has had the worst qualified bad throw rate in the league for 10 weeks.
Even when Gurley easily picked up his best game of the season, he was more of the same than Gough on Sunday night. He connected on a couple of deep passes, but was ineffective under limited pressure, locked in his first reads too often, missed a couple of strokes with no excuses and had to be selected at least twice.
It is good that Rams' defense started its act together after a rough start to the year. Donald is in tears (seven sacks in the last five games), and that unit has surrendered just 11.0 points per game since Week 7.
But now it feels inevitable that Goff will spoil it for that defense, even if it doesn't happen on this particular night. And, that's a shame, as is the fact that Aries is an all-in on Goff. The window closes on a team in Win-Mode without missing both pay-cap space and draft capital in the early part of the forthcoming new decade.
They are married to Goff and his new $ 134m deal, but it all makes sense that the extension was a mistake. Aries remains a contender despite their quarter of the franchise, and it's not a recipe for success in this day and age.
Brad Gannon covers the NHL for the 2012 Bleacher Report.