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Last season

New faces: Signed OT Jake Long; drafted WRs Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and LBs Alec Ogletree and Barrett Jones

Key losses: RB Steven Jackson, WR Danny Amendola, S Craig Dahl, LB Rocky McIntosh

Strengths: The defensive front. Like Arizona, the heart of St. Louis’ defense rests up front with defensive linemen Chris Long, Robert Quinn and Michael Brockers, a trio that combined for 26 sacks last year. Rookie LB Alec Ogletree has looked like a star in the making this preseason, and LB James Laurinaitis is steady.

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Weaknesses: The running game. Jackson, St. Louis’ longtime workhorse, is in Atlanta now, leaving Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead and rookie Zac Stacey to pick up the slack.

Expectations: The Rams are the division’s hardest team to pin expectations on because so much rests on Sam Bradford. If he plays like the top-shelf quarterback St. Louis envisioned when they drafted him No. 1 overall, the Rams could possibly creep into nine- or 10-win territory. If he regresses, they could be looking at five or six wins.

Quarterback: This is the tipping point year for Bradford. Despite losing Jackson and Amendola, the Rams should be better offensively than a year ago. They surrounded Bradford with explosive WRs in Austin and Bailey.

Jayson Jenks

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