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Rams' resurgence backed by young but talented core on offense

The Los Angeles Rams went from 12-5 and Super Bowl champions in 2021 to 5-12 and hopeless in 2022. Such is the adjective because they lost Odell Beckham Jr. to an ACL injury and Von Miller to free agency. Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp didn’t finish the season.

Worst yet, the Rams have traded away their early-round picks as part of the trade package for Stafford. But after a season they’d rather forget, Los Angeles’ NFC team has bounced back to playoff contention thanks to the gems they’ve unearthed through the NFL Draft.

These discoveries powered their 30-22 Week 16 Thursday Night Football victory against the New Orleans Saints. Puka Nacua, a frontrunner for this year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award, finished with nine catches for 164 yards and a touchdown. It’s his sixth 100-yard game in his maiden season and third beyond 150.

The Rams selected the unheralded BYU standout in the fifth round of this year’s draft. However, it didn’t take long for him to become one of Stafford’s top targets, tallying 100-yard performances in three of his first four games. He has also complemented Kupp perfectly when the veteran has the hot hand.

Meanwhile, Kyren Williams had 22 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown against the Saints. The Rams selected him in the fifth round of last year’s draft, but he became an understudy to Malcolm Brown and Cam Akers.

He got his chance when the Rams traded Akers to the Minnesota Vikings and didn’t re-sign Brown. He’s making the most of his opportunities by collecting 1,057 yards and 12 total touchdowns (nine rushing) in 11 games. He’s had a 100-yard performance in six of his last eight games.

Nacua and Williams have helped the Rams improve to 8-7 with two regular season games left. The young tandem has been essential to their five victories in their last six games.

More importantly, they are sixth in the NFC playoff seedings and could be a dark horse because of their young leaders.

-Lance Fernandez

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