One of the most exciting days on the NFL calendar is coming — the release of the 2021 schedule. To nobody’s surprise, the Los Angeles Rams enter the 2021 with the 10th most difficult slate of opponents in the NFL based off of the team’s record in 2020. There is no question that they could use some favors from the schedule makers to make it a little easier.
The NFL will release their full 2021 schedule next Wednesday, May 12th, giving us the first chance to go through their 17-game schedule and mark each as a win or a loss.
With several new coaches and a new starting quarterback, the Rams could really benefit from a soft opening to the schedule and a chance to start the season on a high note. Matthew Stafford could use some time to gain a rapport with his new wide receivers.
So while we wait for the final schedule to come out, here is how I would put together the perfect schedule for the Rams:
Week 1: Home vs. Arizona Cardinals
Sean McVay has never lost to the Arizona Cardinals in his time in Los Angeles. Playing the Cardinals Week 1 seems like it would be the perfect matchup to get Stafford and the Rams going on the right foot. A division rival to start the season is never easy, but the first game with fans at SoFi stadium might make that a little easier.
Week 2: Home vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Rams played the Buccaneers toward the end of last year and were the last NFC team to defeat the Super Bowl champions last season. It won’t be easy, but the Rams can hope to catch the Buccaneers in a bit of an early-season Super Bowl hangover.
Week 3: At Indianapolis Colts
The Colts might be another team that the Rams will want to see early on in the season. Carson Wentz will be newly under center and could be working through some early season bumps. Wentz was one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL last season.
Week 4: At Green Bay Packers
The Packers just got a lot more interesting on the schedule. Aaron Rodgers has reportedly said that he’s not playing in Green Bay this season. Whether or not that happens, is to be determined. If the Packers are without Rodgers, catching Jordan Love early in his career and playing in Green Bay before it gets cold, wouldn’t hurt.
Week 5: Home vs. San Francisco 49ers
Playing the 49ers is never easy. Heck, the Rams have lost their last four games against the 49ers. But an early season matchup is interesting. The 49ers drafted Trey Lance with the third overall pick. Either Lance will be early in his career and only have four or so games under his belt, or Jimmy Garoppolo will be under center and the 49ers will be anxious to pull him.
Week 6: At Seattle Seahawks
Back-to-back division games, especially against the Seahawks and 49ers won’t be easy, but playing at home and then heading to Seattle allows the Rams to at least stay on the west coast while knocking out a road trip. An early road trip to Seattle also means a home meeting late in the year when the games matter more.
Week 7: Home vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Rams might want to get the Jaguars slightly earlier in the season to catch Trevor Lawrence early in his career, but either way, this should be a win for the Rams. Lawrence will still be relatively new to the NFL and the Jaguars still have one of the worst rosters in football. If the Rams go 0-2 in the division stretch, the Jaguars will also be a good “reset game”.
Week 8: At Baltimore Ravens
The Rams drew the Baltimore Ravens as their AFC foe in the NFL’s new 17-week schedule. You couldn’t ask much more for a more difficult opponent. The Kansas City Chiefs might be the exception there. At the very least, the Rams can hope the NFL schedule makers keep the two east coast trips together.
Week 9: At New York Giants
The Giants gave the Rams a tough game last year and a Week 9 game on the road is about the latest that you want to travel to New York before you risk bad weather. This would be an early November game to wrap up a long east coast road trip and three away games in four weeks.
Week 10: BYE
A Week 10 bye after a long east coast trip seems perfect. It’s not too early and it’s not too late and the Rams will get a chance to rest.
Week 11: Home vs. Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears could be pretty good this season. Their defense always comes to play, but Justin Fields is arguable the best quarterback in that division with no Aaron Rodgers. Two weeks to prepare for a big NFC matchup with potential playoff implications is ideal.
Week 12: At San Francisco 49ers
Division games on the road are never easy and they’re even more difficult late in the season. A big game against the 49ers could give the Rams what they need for a late-season playoff push.
Week 13: Home vs. Tennessee Titans
The Titans played the Rams tough in Sean McVay’s first season with the team in 2017. Both teams have made the playoffs in three of the last four years. This is an AFC-NFC Game, but it will be a big one late in the season.
Week 14: At Minnesota Vikings
Now we head into the final stretch. If the Rams are fighting for a wild card spot or even one of the top four places in the NFC, this game against Minnesota will be crucial. The Rams and Vikings have had some fun battles over the last few years and this one should be no different.
Week 15: Home vs. Detroit Lions
Jared Goff’s return to LA comes late in the season. The Lions could be better than expected, but they are still a year or two away from competing. They had a good draft, but they aren’t there just yet. Late in the year, this could be a big, much needed win for the Rams.
Week 16: At Houston Texans
Wins are important late in the season. The Houston Texans arguably have the worst roster in the NFL. This game will be what the Jets game was supposed to be last year – an easy win.
Week 17: At Arizona Cardinals
Again, back-to-back road games, especially late isn’t easy, but the Rams at least aren’t going all the way to the east coast and both games are in the same region of the country. Again, wins matter late in the season and when it comes to the Cardinals, all the Rams do is win.
Week 18: Home vs. Seattle Seahawks
Week 18 for all of the marbles in the NFC West? That’s what this has the potential for and there would be no better place to play that game than at SoFi stadium.