Los Angeles Rams: Could there really be a 1999 repeat for the 2017 Rams?

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Through eight games, the 2017 Los Angeles Rams are looking amazingly reminiscent of the 1999 Super Bowl Champions.

These days, every time I provide analysis on the ultra-surprising and extraordinarily impressive 2017 Los Angeles Rams, I find myself utterly shocked at the words I end up typing. I never expected to be penning a piece discussing the possibility of first-time head coach Sean McVay eventually earning NFL Coach of the Year Honors.

I didn’t anticipate finalizing a feature proclaiming that the Rams are for real. And I certainly did not think I would be working on an article that would favorably compare this year’s L.A. squad with a legendary Super Bowl winning 1999 Rams team that stunned the world.

After all, outside of the most ardent of Rams homers, how many were predicting that Los Angeles would be sitting alone atop the NFC West halfway through the season and tied for the second-best record in the conference? But, here I am, still stunned and in awe, and somewhat reluctantly asking if this organization could somehow once again shock the planet and do what the Greatest Show on Turf managed to accomplish almost 20 years ago in St. Louis.

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At the midway point of the season, let us look at some striking similarities between the 1999 and 2017 Rams:

  • Both the 1999 and 2017 Rams were coming off of 4-12 seasons and generally not expected to make much noise or sniff the postseason.
  • Both this year’s Rams squad and the 1999 edition started 6-2.
  • In 1998, the Atlanta Falcons lost the Super Bowl. In 2016, Atlanta once again lost the NFL Championship Game.
  • The 1999 Rams led the NFL in points per game at 32.9. Thus far, the 2017 Rams lead the league at exactly the same 32.9 ppg.
  • In 1999, the offense thrived with a second year quarterback under center. Thus far this year, the Rams are having similar success with another second year signal-caller.
  • The World Champion Rams rode the broad shoulders of Marshall Faulk, one of the game’s all-time best dual-threat running backs. This season, L.A. is doing much the same on the back of Todd Gurley.
  • Just before the turn of the century, the Rams excelled on special teams, via the likes of kick returner Tony Horne and punt returner Az-Zahir Hakim. This campaign, Los Angeles is dominating on special teams with punter Johnny Hekker, kicker Greg Zuerlein and returner Pharoh Cooper.
  • While this campaign’s defense has not yet produced in the way the 1999 edition did, nor has it generated the same amount of pass pressure as players like Leonard Little and Grant Wistrom did at the time, the 2017 unit is meshing and coming into its own around the vast talents of defensive tackle Aaron Donald, hybrid end/linebacker Robert Quinn and middle linebacker Alec Ogletree, among others.

I could go on, but let’s stop there and agree that there are some darn eerie similarities between the rollback Rams and the franchise’s latest installment. Of course, none of the above guarantees that Los Angeles is going to make a magical Super Bowl run for the ages like those old-school Rams did.

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Heck, none of the aforementioned points even serve to ensure that these Rams even win the division or earn a wild-card berth, as they likely need at least three or four more wins to do that. But what the comparables do show — at least through the halfway point of the slate — is that the Rams are a team both capable of playing in January and winning some games when they get there.

When watching them play, is there really a team out there you think they cannot beat on a given day? Is there a team out there who looks to be much better — if any — than the Rams?

Some might point to the Philadelphia Eagles (who the Rams host on Dec. 10) the Minnesota Vikings (who they play on Nov. 19) or the New England Patriots. However, I would favor the Rams against Minnesota and expect a tough matchup against either Philly or the Pats.

All that said, the Rams seem to have arrived a year or two quicker than most expected. While there is indeed a long way to go in this campaign, this team has enough talent to continue to surprise in ways similar to its 1999 predecessor.

Next: NFL 2017: 20 Bold predictions for Week 10

Can they eventually shock the world?

I don’t know, but it is telling that it even crosses the mind, and the above points serve to verify that those who think it’s possible are not as crazy as we ourselves might even think we are, even if we would have laughed at such suggestions just a couple of months back.