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Rams Listed As NFL Playoffs 'Turnaround Candidate' by Sports Illustrated

A new piece suggests that the Los Angeles Rams are among the most likely non-playoff teams from a year ago to reach the postseason in 2023.
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It wouldn't quite be worst-to-first, but just a year after they were the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Los Angeles Rams are looking to turn a 5-12 season in 2022 into a playoff berth in 2023. And one prominent writer believes Sean McVay's squad has a chance to do just that. 

In a piece for Sports Illustrated, Connor Orr recently examined the six non-playoff teams from a season ago most likely to end up playing in a postseason game in 2023. Among his picks were the Rams, a team that finished with a -77 point differential in 2022, the third-worst mark in the NFC: 

"The Rams were injured last year, and, while we still can’t completely depend on the long-term health of Matthew Stafford, I think they can break out of the patterns of stagnation that slowed them down. L.A. had a boatload of mid-round picks that I think, if deployed correctly, could finally add the layer of depth we all struggled to find during their best seasons when the team was a bit top-heavy and reliant on star power."

Clearly, the most important thing for the Rams to have success in 2023 is keeping their remaining stars on the field. Stafford -- recently ranked at No. 13 on our quarterback countdown -- was in concussion protocol twice last year, limiting him to just nine games. Cooper Kupp is one of the NFL's elite receivers but only played in nine games in 2022 because of an ankle injury. Even three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald was held out of six games last season. 

General manager Les Snead didn't have a first-round pick to work with this year, as per usual. But Los Angeles still received pretty strong marks for a 14-man class headlined by offensive guard Steve Avila and quarterback Stetson Bennett. 

Make no mistake, though, if the Rams are going to compete for a playoff spot in 2023, it's going to be in large part because the aforementioned trio of Stafford, Kupp and Donald have enough collective juice left for one last hurrah. If that doesn't prove to be the case, the Rams will miss the playoffs, and the futures of Stafford, Donald and McVay will all likely be in question. 

You can follow Tim Kelly @TimKellySports on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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