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Jeff Fisher hoping early-season success can break struggles outside NFC West

The Rams are off to a strong start to the 2016 season and are hoping that trend can continue outside the NFC West.

The Los Angeles Rams have been one of the surprise teams in the league through the first month of the season currently holding a 3-1 record that has placed them atop of the NFC West standings. 

During this stretch, the Rams have won two out of their first three games against divisional opponents by upending both the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals after a disappointing loss in the season opener to the San Francisco 49ers. In the first four seasons under head coach Jeff Fisher, Los Angeles has experienced some success within the division twice winning four games including last year. 

However, the Rams have struggled with continuing that trend outside the division compiling at least six regular season losses three times during that stretch. This is something that Fisher has become well aware over the years. 

“Well, two weeks ago we played a team that wasn’t in our division, on the road, and beat them. Yeah, that’s been the case, that’s been the talk out there. We’re out of the division now, and we’re going to be out of the division for a while," Fisher said. "So now we have to learn how to win on the road, learn how to win against uncommon opponents rather, and that’s a challenge. What you have to do during the week is you have to become familiar with the uncommon opponent. Familiarize yourself with them, the match-ups, what they do; it increases the study time, the preparation time. It’ll be a good experience for us this week.”

The Rams took care of their first out of division opponent in Week 3 holding off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 37-32 on the road. That said, they will have another formidable challenge on Sunday afternoon against the Buffalo Bills in their second home game since relocating back to Los Angeles. Buffalo is coming off two straight wins defeating a pair of playoffs teams from last year in the Cardinals and New England Patriots in convincing fashion. 

"Defensively, they’re very, very talented, they’ll come from all different directions – they’re going to attack your protection, they’re going to stop your run, they’re going to make the plays down the field," Fisher said. "Offensively, creative, they had, obviously, the coaching change, but it’s built around ‘Shady’ (RB LeSean McCoy) and the quarterback can extend plays. They’re going to miss (WR) Sammy (Watkins), but they’ve got weapons on offense. It’s a well-coached team and they play good special teams, as well, they’re into special teams – unlike some of the other teams we’ve faced.”

Los Angeles is also heading into the game carrying plenty of momentum after three straight wins, marking the first time since 2006 that the team has won three out of their first four games of the regular season. What has been most notable during this span is that each of their victories has come down to the wire with the Rams needing a defensive stop at the end of the fourth quarter to seal their fate. 

In light of that, Fisher is hoping that these close wins can help provide his team with the confidence that they can continue their upward trend moving forward beginning with the Bills. 

"You have to keep fighting and keep working, and the expectation is to find a way to win," Fisher said. "The last three all come down to the last play of the game basically. It would be nice to have one that you can sit down and relax a little bit. But, winning close games is harder to teach a team, than it is the other side of that, which is get up and relax in the fourth quarter. In the National Football League, you can’t relax. You never know what’s going to happen.” 

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