At 8-3, Rams Playing with Confidence

With Sunday's 26-20 victory over the Saints, the Rams have reached eight wins for the first time since 2006.

It's probably not the first time you've either read or heard that fact this week.

There are plenty of quantifiable reasons for the Rams doubling their win total from 2016 with five games left to play. Among them, the most important number: points. L.A. is No. 2 in scoring, averaging 29.9 points per game. And the club is surrendering only 18.7 points per game, putting it at No. 7.

But three are also those intangible reasons for Los Angeles' resurgence as a potential playoff contender in Sean McVay's first year as the franchise's head coach. McVay and his staff have undoubtedly turned around the the club's culture. And as the Rams keep winning, the confidence within the team only continues to grow.

"We've changed a bunch of stuff, but I think ultimately what we have now is a lot of confidence," quarterback Jared Goff said after Sunday's victory. "Our team is playing with a lot of confidence and we don't care who lines up against us. We're going to go out and play our game and execute to the best our ability. We believe in the defense, defense believes in us [as an offense]. We all believe in the special teams and we all believe in each other and have a lot of confidence in each other."

Check out the best photos from the Los Angeles Rams' 26-20 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Irrespective of where the Rams began the season and what expectations where outside the building, the team's results have indicated that the weekly process and rhythm is working. And McVay has implemented the kind of environment that has allowed L.A. to handle adversity well whenever it comes up.

"Coach does a great job with kind of if we have a loss, getting us back to where we need to be — helping us to be able to bounce back from those different things," right guard Jamon Brown said. "When we have success, handle the success. He always preaches treat them both the same — the wins and the losses. So once we do that, it's always a next-play mentality. If it's a bad outcome, move on to the next one. That's kind of just the mentality he's driven into us."

Heading into Sunday's game, for instance, the Rams were coming off a tough loss to the Vikings. Plus, the club was without some of its most important contributors due to injury, including wide receiver Robert Woods and defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman.

"At the end of the day it's a 'We not me' mentality," Brown said. "When one goes down and the next guy is up and that's the standard that we have for everyone. So it's not just the starters who are in, it's the backups that have the same standards as if they're a starter. Because, as you saw today, they can be a starter."

"I think that the guys set the standards themselves and I think they have high expectations week-in and week-out," McVay said.

With Woods as the Rams' leading receiver, the group of wideouts knew as a whole they would have to step up in his absence. And thats' exactly what happened, as Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp, and Josh Reynolds were all a significant contributors in Sunday's game.

"There was definitely some different intensity out there with just Rob being out," Watkins said. "I think for the most part the coaches did a great part with preparing our game plan without Rob and just put us in great situations."

That goes especially for Reynolds, who made his first start and caught his first touchdown on Sunday. But Goff and McVay also showed confidence in the rookie late in the game, when the Texas A&M product made a 10-yard catch on the right sideline on 3rd-and-9.

"Great coach," Reynolds said of McVay. "Great players' coach — he knows how to get to us and get us to where we can remember stuff well. He knows where to put guys around to have them in the most successful spots.

"So, he is definitely changing the culture of this team," Reynolds continued. "It's awesome."

And that's coming from a player who just arrived in the spring.

Those are the elements that came into play in Sunday's victory — a game the Rams appeared to control from start to finish over a team that entered the week No. 3 in scoring and riding an eight-game winning streak.

Was it the Rams' biggest win of the season?

"I think it was the biggest because it's the most recent and I think it's because every one of these counts as one," McVay said.

Was it a statement win?

"No, I just think it's a game that we needed to win. Every game, every week is crucial," outside linebacker Robert Quinn said. "We have a lot to prove still, but it's just great to have this one under our belt."

But a 26-20 victory over a fellow first-place NFC team, that shows the Rams are one of the elite teams in the conference, doesn't it?

"We're focused on what we need to do here," middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said. "Everybody can conversate on who's the best, but our focus is to go one week at a time and try to win that week. We'll let the rest take care of itself."

That's where you see the confidence. The Rams aren't concerned about what happens on the outside — whether it's a comment from an analyst or the result of a different team in the conference.

Right now, the Rams feel that as long as they take care of their business, they'll come away successful.

So far, that approach has been successful. And at 8-3 with five games to go, the confidence that's come with it has been well earned.

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