Friday, September 8, 2023

Los Angeles Rams Week 1 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2023 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the Los Angeles Rams in our consensus 2023 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 27

On the hot seat: RB Cam Akers

Akers is a running back in the last season of his rookie contract. In this financial environment, that's enough to put Akers under pressure. It is magnified because of his frustrating career trajectory so far. There have been brief flashes of a potential dominant back, but he has just nine career games with 15 or more carries. In those games, he has a combined 789 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns, a 4.4 yards-per-carry average and four 100-yard performances. He has made 14 starts in three seasons, partially because of a torn Achilles tendon in 2021. If Akers is going to play like a star, and get paid like one, now is the time. -- Dan Greenspan -- Rank: 30

Aaron Donald considered retirement following the Rams' Super Bowl LVI victory. After a trying 2022 season, he's back as the unquestionable leader of the Rams' defense as they try to climb back to respectability. It's a very young roster, which could result in early-season growing pains. Could Donald be moved to a contender if the Rams slip out of the race prior to 4 p.m. ET on All Hallows' Eve, a.k.a. the trade deadline? I wouldn't rule out a scenario similar to Von Miller exiting Denver to chase a Super Bowl with the Rams in 2021. Los Angeles is awash in dead cap money and would surely love to stockpile future assets. Trading Donald was once unthinkable, but now it feels like it will be a quite-reasonable possibility at some point.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 31

This is a young team that is paying the price for going after a Super Bowl two years ago - but at least they won it. Now it's starting over time.

USA Today -- Rank: 26

If WR Cooper Kupp's hamstring doesn't respond, QB Matthew Stafford better hope he can quickly find ways to connect with his younger teammates between the lines.

The Athletic -- Rank: 26

Best-case scenario: Matthew Stafford wins over his younger teammates by showing up to work dressed as the Steve Buscemi meme, though it only happens by accident. Cooper Kupp gets over his hamstring issue quickly, and he and Stafford are all Sean McVay needs to fashion a top-15 offense. Aaron Donald does Aaron Donald things, and the young, no-name defense gets better as the season goes on, finally finishing as a top-15 group. While the rest of the division takes a step back, McVay's Rams squeak into the playoffs as 9-8 NFC West champs.

Worst-case scenario: Kupp never really recovers from his hamstring injury and Stafford's body doesn't last much longer behind a mediocre offensive line. Donald is dealt home to the Steelers at the deadline, and McVay finally opts to pack it in for a few years to work in television.

FOX -- Rank: 31

Earlier in the offseason, you could have convinced me the trio of Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford was good enough to drag this team to a respectable record. Here in September, Kupp is already dealing with an injury and Stafford is supposedly having trouble connecting with all his young teammates. If the Rams can find a handful of quality players among all these rookies, the season will be a success. Hard to see much more than that.

Yahoo! -- Rank: 30

Preseason doesn't matter, it really doesn't matter for the Rams, but losing 41-0 to the Broncos? That hints at how bad the Rams might be. At the very least, their depth is nonexistent and now a top-heavy team can't be sure when Cooper Kupp will play due to a hamstring injury. It could get really bad.

PFT -- Rank: 29

Last year was bad. There's a decent chance this year will be worse.

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