NFL Schedule: Predicting the Rams’ prime-time TV games

by Blaine Grisak
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The next stop for the Los Angeles Rams’ offseason hype train is the 2021 NFL schedule release, which is set for this Wednesday night. All 32 teams will get their full schedules, and 98 percent of the league’s marquee prime-time television spots will be announced.

As they have been the last few years, the Rams will be prominently involved in the marquee games. That wasn’t always the case. However, with a move to Los Angeles and more team success, the Rams are a team that the nation wants to watch. The Rams traded for Matthew Stafford over the offseason and are in full pursuit of the Lombardi.

It’s a safe bet to pencil in the Rams for at least four prime-time games on the NFL’s new 17-game schedule. With Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, and Jalen Ramsey, this is a team that has the star power that attracts ratings. Not only that, the Rams typically put on a good show in primetime. In Week One, the game came down to the final possession against the Dallas Cowboys. Later in the year, the Rams defeated the to-be Super Bowl champion, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

All 32 teams have long known their opponents but won’t know exact dates and times until Wednesday’s schedule release.

How intrigued are the TV networks with Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford? With Aaron Donald coming off of a third defensive player of the year award? Wednesday night, we’ll get most of those answers. Below is a prediction of which Rams games figure to land in the most appealing national TV spots, in order of most likely to least likely.

Vs. Seattle Seahawks

It’s hard not to put the Seattle Seahawks at the top of this list. These two teams just played in the playoffs last year and it’s one of the best rivalries in the NFC West. The Rams knocked out the Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card game unexpectedly with John Wolford and an injured Jared Goff.

The Rams and Seahawks always put on a good show and will be the top two contenders for the NFC West title. The TV Networks should be lining up at the door for this showdown.

Prediction: Thursday or Sunday Night

At Green Bay Packers

This will be a re-match of last season NFC Division matchup. If Green Bay still has Aaron Rodgers, they’ll be one of the top contenders in the NFC along with the Rams. There’s a good chance that this game has significance when it comes to home-field advantage and playoff seeding.

Despite the scoreline, the Rams were trailing by one score for much of the fourth quarter in last season’s playoff game at Lambeau. This one also has the potential storylines of Stafford vs. Rodgers, and Adams vs. Ramsey. This one has Sunday Night written all over it.

Prediction: Sunday Night

Vs. San Francisco 49ers

When it comes to Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, the TV Networks are always ready to line up at the door. The two teams have missed out on a primetime matchup just once since the Rams moved to Los Angeles. That’s four matchups in five years. It wouldn’t be surprising if the networks make it five in six.

The 49ers will be going for a resurgence in 2021. After a letdown in 2020, the 49ers traded for quarterback Trey Lance. Meanwhile the Rams traded for quarterback Matthew Stafford. These teams are very similar with two big-name coaches who are always trying to one-up each other.

Prediction: Thursday or Monday Night

Vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

These two teams played last year on Monday Night Football and it was the Rams that got the best of the Super Bowl champions late in the season. This will be a prime NFC Matchup and it’s hard to see the networks saying no. That’s not to mention that last year’s game was extremely good as well.

This has the premier quarterback matchup between Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady. The coaching matchup between Bruce Arians and Sean McVay. These will be two of the top teams in the NFC potentially battling for playoff seeding as well. It would not be surprising to see Rams-Bucs on primetime once again.

Prediction: Sunday or Monday Night

Vs. Detroit Lions

If you want a game with storylines, this one has it. The only issue is that it’s still the Detroit Lions and they’re not projected to be good. It’s not as if the Rams traded Jared Goff to the New York Giants or another big market team or a team that was looking to take the next step. Still, this will be Jared Goff’s return to Los Angeles and Matthew Stafford going up against his former team.

This game likely won’t make Thursday Night or Sunday Night, but a Monday Night showdown is definitely possible. Brad Holmes also went from Los Angeles to Detroit. This game isn’t going to bring in ratings which is why I still think that the chances of it hitting the primetime stage is unlikely.

Prediction: Monday Night

Conclusion

The Rams don’t really have many “primetime worthy” opponents on the 2021 schedule. The networks have put the Rams and Bears on primetime in the past, but the last couple of matchups have been snoozers. I could see the NFL putting the Rams and Cardinals is a Thursday night slot with the Kliff Klingbury-Sean McVay storyline, but the Rams have dominated the matchup over the last few years.

When all is said and done, the Rams could get between three and five primetime slots. Given the schedule and the storylines, these are the matchups that I believe are most likely to grab the attention at the networks.

 

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