ST. LOUIS -- We've spent plenty of time over the past four or five months documenting the rise of the NFC West to the top of the list among the league's divisions. We've also pointed out repeatedly how that rise has and will continue to make life difficult for the St. Louis Rams to get back in the postseason.
The Rams were 4-1-1 against Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco a year ago. They were 1-5 against that trio this year. We'll have more on that later today but one factor that's hard to account for is the presence of quarterback Sam Bradford against the division last year and then his absence for four of the six games in the division this year.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz offered a look at that very topic in his blog Tuesday and he makes a valid point about the Rams' success with Bradford against the West versus their struggles without him.
As the blog points out, there's no way to know definitively how Bradford would have fared had he played in the other four games this year. He was good in the opener against Arizona and awful against San Francisco a few weeks later.
Here's what I know -- and this is a good topic to revisit this offseason -- the Rams had success in games this year when they ran the ball effectively. Without Bradford, the Rams had zero success offensively if they didn't have the running game going. Bradford would have given them a better chance against elite defenses like Seattle, Arizona and San Francisco even if the run game wasn't going. With Bradford, the Rams at least have a competent enough passing attack that it can function and be successful if teams want to load up to stop the run.
A roundup of Tuesday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we looked at the Rams' playing with an edge but not going over it. ... Next, we offered a glance at the Rams' 2014 opponents. ... In the final Power Rankings, the Rams finished at No. 20. ... Finally, we took a look at the chances the Rams stand pat with their current coaching staff in 2014.
At stltoday.com, Jim Thomas discusses the Rams' struggles against the NFC West in 2013 and moving forward.
Columnist Bryan Burwell believes the Rams are on the right track.
Burwell ranks Rams defensive end Robert Quinn No. 2 on his list of St. Louis Sportsman of the Year.
Joe Lyons cleans up the final Rams' team awards.
Turf Show Times has a good breakdown of the Rams' penalty problems.