The Rams have come a long way this year.
After posting a disappointing 4-12 record in the club's inaugural season back in Los Angeles, the Rams have rallied under first-year head coach Sean McVay, more than doubling their win total and clinching their first NFC West division championship in 14 years.
With the regular season nearly complete and the postseason approaching, now is the perfect time to look back and see just how unexpected this season has been, at least from the sports media's point of view. Below is a sampling of the prognostications made for the Rams prior to the season by some of the more prominent outlets. Needless to say, no one predicted the success that the club is having.
NFC WEST PRESEASON DIVISION PREDICTIONS
Every NFL.com and NFL Network analyst picked the Seahawks to win the division.
Judy Battista: "Seattle Seahawks. A strange offseason with indications of tension and trade speculation gives way to what could be a surprisingly easy division title for the Seahawks."
Steve Wyche: "Seahawks. There is a frightening edge to these guys entering the season -- and that is frightening knowing how much of an edge they've always possessed."
Maurice Jones-Drew: "Seahawks. The Legion of Boom is happy again with the re-signing of Kam Chancellor."
ESPN's Sports Analytics Team: According to the initial Football Power Index rankings for 2017, the Rams had a 4.0 percent chance of winning the division.
CBS Sports: According to writer Jason La Canfora, CBS Sports also predicted the Seahawks to win the NFC West division.
"Sure, they could use another offensive lineman, but no roster is perfect. This group finds ways to win games week in and week out.
Bleacher Report: The popular sports media site set the Rams odds of winning the division at 5-1. But gave Seattle and Arizona 2-1 odds of clinching the title.
"The Rams need to see progress this year. They can compete for division titles further down the road."
RAMS WIN TOTAL PRESEASON PREDICTIONS
ESPN.com: Senior writer Mike Sando had the Rams at just three wins when predicting the projected records of all 32 teams.
"Wins: Colts, Texans, 49ers
Losses: at 49ers, Cardinals, at Cardinals, at Cowboys, Eagles, at Giants, at Jaguars, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, at Seahawks, at Titans, at Vikings
Analysis: The poor first impression Jared Goff made as a rookie might not reflect what lies ahead, but it's defining perceptions for him and the Rams. QB tiers voting has the Rams playing at a QB deficit in 15 games, with the only advantage (a small one) coming against Houston. On the positive side, the Rams face only one Tier 1 QB (Drew Brees), and they also draw Indy without Andrew Luck."
CBS Sports: The CBS Sportsline projected the Rams to come away with 5.2 wins in 2017.
"This year will be a major test of Sean McVay's offensive ability; if he turns Jared Goff into a quality quarterback after a horrific rookie year, he'll be an L.A. legend. I can't give up on Todd Gurley yet. Wade Phillips should be a huge reason for a leap forward from a defense that fits his 3-4 scheme well."
Bleacher Report: One prediction from Bleacher Report, released on the same day as the schedule was announced, had the Rams going 2-14 this year.
"2017 is shaping up to be another snooze-fest for the Los Angeles Rams, but let me say this: They did a nice job signing offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth—a veteran presence to protect the blindside of young quarterback Jared Goff…
"Let's just get this over with—the Rams are screwed. And bad."
Plus, check out where the Rams stood in terms of Las Vegas predictions:
According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook – the largest race and sports book in the city — Los Angeles was given 25/1 odds to win the division. Only the San Francisco 49ers had worse odds at 40/1. Plus, the same superbook had the Rams listed as underdogs in 16 of 17 games this season.
And in terms of total projected wins as of May, the Rams were predicted to win a meager 5.5 games by the online sportsbook Bovada — the fourth lowest win total behind the Jets, Browns, and 49ers.
To put that number in perspective, the Rams nabbed their sixth win in Week 9 and have now doubled Vegas' projected win total.
The club's odds to make the playoffs were similarly bleak. As of July, L.A. had the fifth worst odds to make the playoffs in 2018 ahead of only the Bears, 49ers, Browns and Jets. Now heading into their final game of the season, the Rams are sitting pretty as the No. 3 seed in the NFC.