Here it is. Super Bowl Sunday.
What was your first thought of the morning?
"Finally, it's game day?"
"Let's go get this 'chip?"
Or perhaps, "Whose House?!?"
Mine was the same it's been every morning since we landed in Atlanta: How long until the Rams are back on this stage?
No matter how many times friends, family, and peers insist that you to enjoy the moment – and we have enjoyed the moment – it's human nature to wonder what's next.
Let's start our final Morning Musings of the season there.
Get to know the Los Angeles Rams by looking through the 53-man roster!
This isn't a fluke
Sure, it took a fortunate no-call in New Orleans. And incredible fortune on the injury front.
But make no mistake about this: The Los Angeles Rams deserved to be NFC Champions.
And furthermore, I believe this run has staying power.
You wouldn't trade Sean McVay for any head coach in the league, including Bill Belichick. His quarterback is perfectly-suited to run the offense. The two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year responded to an historic contract extension with his best year yet.
Most importantly, there's a standard that's been set in the two years since McVay arrived in Los Angeles. Whatever roster changes take place around this sensational nucleus, they'll be expected to uphold a championship culture.
So whether it's next year or five years from now, yes, I believe these Rams will return to the Super Bowl soon.
(That being said, for today at least, let's pretend it's their one and only shot at the Lombardi Trophy.)
Who might we be seeing in Horns for the last time?
Win or lose, there's going to be turnover this off-season, just as there is on every roster in the NFL. But a victory could be especially poignant for a few Rams and, though they might have said otherwise this week, influence their thinking for 2019.
For instance, if Andrew Whitworth, John Sullivan, or Ndamukong Suh were to win their first ring tonight, might they consider going out on a high note?
If Wade Phillips were to hoist a Lombardi Trophy again tonight, might he opt to pass the coordinator headset?
Regardless of the outcome, what does the future hold for veterans like Roger Saffold and Lamarcus Joyner?
The outcome of Super Bowl LIII is anyone's guess. The only certainty is that this roster of 53 Rams will never see the field together again.
It's been a privilege to watch them work.
The Super Bowl has a track record of elevating unlikely heroes.
Who might that man be for the Rams?
LA substitutes so sparingly on offense that it's almost impossible to pick from that group, though I wouldn't be surprised if tight ends Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee have big moments.
On defense, I think Michael Brockers will make instrumental contributions matching the physicality of New England's running game. Nickell Robey-Coleman commanded the national spotlight this week, so perhaps he'll have his opportunity against Tom Brady and Julian Edelman.
Maybe it's JoJo Natson in the return game.
However, I've been waiting for Joyner to flash all season. Playing on the franchise tag, coming off a career season, playing next to a rising star in John Johnson, expectations for the fifth-year safety were off the charts. The reception he allowed Ten Ginn, Jr. and the Saints in the NFC Championship nearly ended the Rams season in New Orleans. If the moment presents itself again tonight, I don't suspect he'll miss it.
Be your best when your best is required
All season, the Rams have been what McVay calls situational masters. Super Bowl week already has presented a wide array of situations that are unique to America's biggest sporting event, and tonight's game will undoubtedly bring many more.
The 2018 season also challenged Los Angeles in completely unforeseen ways: from football deficits like they faced (twice) in New Orleans, to a December slump, to actual tragedies like the Borderline Shooting and Woolsey Fire.
Those collective experiences are what forged these Rams, and they are what the Rams will fall back on tonight.
If the 46 players who dress and their coaches are at their best for four hours, they'll be champions. There's no question their best is enough to beat the Patriots.