The defense is Super Bowl caliber, and quick hits

As one who thought the Rams would win maybe six games this season, and even before the game in Seattle picked them to lose 31-6 because of the way the home team was playing, I was very pleased with Jeff Fisher’s first year at the helm of the Rams franchise. The Rams are as good as any team in their division, and 2013 holds great promise.

The defense, as D’Marco Farr noted in ‘The Fast Lane’ last week, is already of Super Bowl caliber. To go into Century Link Field and allow just two touchdowns to the Seahawks…after Seattle had averaged 50 points a game in their last three…was something to behold.

The offense clearly needs help. They averaged about twenty points a game in the second half of the season, and need to add 4-7 points per game. If they can maintain their defensive excellence, and Greg Zuerlein can be consistent for a whole season, this can be a playoff team next year with a little more offense.

That offense can come from better offensive discipline. Six of the Rams fourteen penalties against Seattle came on offense, including a delay of game on 3rd and goal from the Seahawk four yard line, and a false start on Robert Turner on an ensuing field goal try. Too many red zone penalties hurt the Rams dramatically this season…

It’s interesting how the NFL draft works sometimes. Back in April, the Rams took Missouri Western kicker Greg Zuerlein with the first choice in the sixth round, and they’re very happy with his rookie campaign. Two picks later, the Redskins selected Florida Atlantic running back Alfred Morris, who set Washington’s all-time rushing record this year. More than Larry Brown, more than John Riggins, more than Ernest Byner, more than Clinton Portis. In fact, only Eric Dickerson and George Rogers had better rookie rushing seasons than Morris 1,613 yards.

Then with the fifth pick in the sixth round, Minnesota took Georgia kicker Blair Walsh, who earned a Pro Bowl berth for the Vikings. As good as Zuerlein was, Walsh was better-hitting 35-of-38 field goals, including 9-9 from more than 50 yards. Walsh kicked the game winner on the final play against Green Bay Sunday to give the Vikes a playoff berth. How do so many teams miss so many guys? It’s amazing…

I’m really looking forward to the playoffs. Can Adrian Peterson have, in essence, his third straight 200 yard performance against the Packers? Minnesota and Green Bay have played two great games already.

No fan base has more fun than the Redskins, and the Nation’s Capital will be in a tizzy this week with Seattle coming to town on Saturday. Rick Venturi calls major difference makers “Ambien players” because defensive coordinators must take Ambien to sleep the week of those games. Defensive coordinators Jim Haslett of the Redskins and Gus Bradley of Seattle will be up all week preparing for, respectively, rookie quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III.

That’s a great matchup, but I’m interested to see if the ‘Hawks can beat a good team on the road. This season, their road wins were at Carolina early, at Chicago on a last play by Wilson, and at Toronto against the Bills.

In the AFC, Cincinnati and Houston play for the second straight year. But the other AFC game…rookie Andrew Luck and the Colts at Baltimore, should be fun. Ray Lewis is scheduled to return for the Ravens, in what may be his last game in the NFL.

Happy New Year, and enjoy the playoffs.