LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Halfway through the season, the Los Angeles Rams are 5-3 and third in the NFC West. Here's a look back at the first half of the 2020-21 season and a look ahead at their prospects to make the postseason.
The Rams opened the season with the first game ever played in the new $5 billion SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. Fans weren't allowed to attend - but on television they were treated to the sight of the Rams taking down the Dallas Cowboys 20-17. Malcolm Brown rushed for a career-high 79 yards and two touchdowns, while Jared Goff passed for 275 yards.
For their second game, Goff threw for three touchdowns - all to Tyler Higbee - and 275 yards as the Rams beat the Philadelphia Eagles 37-19 at Lincoln Financial Field. The defense also made some big contributions, picking off Carson Wentz twice and recovering a fumble.
Next the Rams headed out to Buffalo to take on the Bills. Two second-half turnovers helped the Rams rally from a 25-point deficit, but quarterback Josh Allen would bail out the Bills by completing a 3-yard pass to tight end Tyler Kroft with 15 seconds remaining to hand Los Angeles a 35-32 defeat.
The Rams returned to SoFi to host the New York Giants, grinding out a 17-9 win. Goff hit Cooper Kupp for a 55-yard touchdown with 6:56 left to seal the win. But what happened after the game was at least as dramatic Los Angeles cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Giants wide receiver Golden Tate would scuffle at midfield after the final snap. Ramsey has two young children with Tate's sister, and Tate was publicly upset last year when the couple went through a nasty breakup.
Los Angeles then took on the Washington Football Team at FedEx Field. The Rams easily beat Washington 30-10 behind Jared Goff's 309 yards and two touchdowns, to complete the AFC East sweep and improve to 4-1. A notable moment in this game was the return of Alex Smith for Washington. The 36-year-old quarterback played in his first game since 2018 after suffering a horrific leg injury that led to life-threatening complications.
In an NFC West matchup the Rams fell short to the 49ers in Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. Goff threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns but it wasn't enough as they fell to San Francisco 24-16.
The Rams bounced back in a primetime Monday Night Football matchup against the Chicago Bears. Goff threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns, while the defense picked off former Rams quarterback Nick Foles twice and held the Chicago offense from the endzone to win 24-10.
Before the bye week, the Rams took on the Miami Dolphins in Hard Rock Stadium. It was the NFL starting debut for first round pick Tua Tagovailoa. While all eyes were on the Miami offense, it was their defense and special teams that stole the show, behind a fumble return and a punt return for touchdowns in the second quarter. The Rams offense struggled to hold on to the ball. Goff threw for 355 yards and a touchdown but also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble as Los Angeles lost to the Dolphins 28-17.
What's to come:
At this point in the season, the Rams offense is averaging around 396 yards per game, putting them at eighth in the NFL. Their defense is first in yards allowed to opposing teams in the NFL allowing only 291 yards per game.
The second half of the season can be expected to present a bigger challenge than the first, including five of the eight games against teams in their division.
In week 10, the Rams take on division rival the Seattle Seahawks, who are currently 6-2 tied for the best record in the NFC. They will also face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Arizona Cardinals twice and the Seahawks one more time before the season comes to a close. Other second-half opponents are the 49ers, the New England Patriots and the New York Jets.
While the Rams are playing in a competitive division, they have a better shot at making the postseason in January under the NFL's new playoff format expanded to 14 teams, with three wild cards per conference. Under the current standings, the NFC appears to have four teams in close contention for those three wild-card spots.