What a turnaround in fortunes for the LA Rams. In 2016 they were dead last in terms of points scored, amassing a feeble 224 points. In 2017, they topped the scoring charts with 478 points. This equates to a points per game increase of 15.88.
Single Season Scoring Improvements
In terms of single-season improvements, only the Cleveland Bulldogs (1923-24), and the New York Yanks (1949-50) have had bigger improvements in scoring from one year to the next. The team who rounds out the top four is the Super Bowl winning St. Louis Rams from 1999 who improved by 15.07 points per game.
The 2016 LA Rams offense was abysmal, and the defense wasn’t much better conceding 394 points. This ranked 22nd in the league. The points differential per game was a whopping -10.63. This was second worst behind the Cleveland Browns differential of -11.75 points per game. This was certainly by no means the worst in history. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 had a points differential of -20.5 per game.
The 2017 Rams had a points differential of 9.31 point per game and therefore an increase from 2016 of 19.94. This puts the team in third place behind the 1999 Rams (23.56 increase from 1998) and Kansas City Chiefs in 2013 (23.1 increase from 2012).
Both of these measures illustrate the improvement in the Rams over the space of a year but only tell a small part of the story. To tell the whole story we have to look at the previous 12 years, from when the Rams last made the playoffs.
Twelve Years of Hurt
Since 2004, only the Cleveland Browns and the Buffalo Bills have not played a post-season game. In that period of 12 years, the Rams were ranked 31st of all teams with an average finishing position of 24.3. The Cleveland Browns average finishing position was 26.1. In that period, only the Cleveland Browns scored fewer points (3,289) that the Rams (3,357). In addition, only the Oakland Raiders (4,816) conceded more points than the Rams (4,674). This gave the Rams the worst points differential of any team over this 12 year period, averaging a differential of -6.86 points per game.
On almost every meaningful statistic, the 2017 Rams have improved immeasurably from the previous 12-year average.
The most telling statistics are those for touchdowns and punts. In terms of touchdowns, the 2017 Rams have scored 51 touchdowns. This is the joint fifth highest in franchise history and highest since 2001. How often a team punts the ball is not something that is usually considered, but this illustrates how well a team retains possession or scores on drives. On average during the previous 12 years, the Rams punted the ball 86 times. In 2017 the Rams only punted the ball 65 times. Over a 16 game season, the Rams have only punted the ball less often on five occasions.
While it is good to focus on the turnaround from 2016 (and before), the real work starts now. It is with excitement that fans are able to look forward to the playoffs. The Atlanta Falcons are a worthy opponent and will pose many problems for the Rams. At this stage, it is too tight to call and could come down to a piece of brilliance on either offense, defense or special teams. The Rams have playmakers on all areas of the field and will hope to utilize as many of these as possible on Saturday.
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