The opponents were already known, but the order in which the Los Angeles Rams would play them was revealed Thursday night. Coming off a disappointing 9-7 season, this offseason has been filled with many changes, none more critical than new coordinators in all three phases of the game.
Despite a disappointing 2019, the Los Angeles Rams will still play five game in primetime and still hold one of the more difficults schedules in terms of winning percentage from last year. Let’s break down the schedule.
Must-See Game – Week 7 vs. Detroit Lions
I think there are a lot of options here. The Los Angeles Rams have a very intriguing schedule with a lot of great matchups. However, the one that everyone will have their eye on will be Week 7 against the Detroit Lions. Jared Goff makes his return to SoFi and Matthew Stafford goes up against his old team.
The Rams should be considered the favorites going in, but don’t be surprised if this one ends up a lot closer because of the emotions of the game. These two teams executed one of the biggest trades of the offseason and we’ll get to see the result of that trade on the field.
Most Intriguing Re-Match – Week 3 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I think Week 5 against the Seattle Seahawks could be in consider here. After what happened in the NFC Wild Card game, Thursday Night Football will be interesting. However, does it get much bigger than the defending Super Bowl champions?
The Los Angeles Rams will have a chance to stake their claim atop the NFC early on in the season. The Rams beat the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay last season. They were also the final NFC team to defeat the Bucs on their way to a Super Bowl championship.
Will the Rams catch the Buccaneers suffering from a Super Bowl hangover? This game is early in the year, but it’s a very intriguing matchup given what could be at stake later on.
Stretch That Will Decide The Season – Week 14-18
Games matter most late in the year. The Rams have a little bit of a difficult stretch between the Titans in Week 9 and the Packers in Week 12. However, it’s the stretch from Week 14 to Week 18 that will decide the season for the Rams. It’s that stretch that will decide whether or not the Rams make the playoffs, win the division, and stake their claim atop the NFC standings.
In that five week stretch, the Rams play three division games and three games on the road. Four of those five games come against NFC opponents and the fifth game comes against one of the best teams in the AFC in the Baltimore Ravens.
The Rams start this stretch with their lone road division game against the Arizona Cardinals. Division games on the road are never easy. One can hope that McVay’s history against the Cardinals can help the Rams come out with a win. That game is also on Monday Night Football.
The team will then have a short week to prepare for a second consecutive division game, this time at home against the Seattle Seahawks. Last year, the Rams lost a late-season matchup against the Seahawks and it cost them the division. This game could hold similar stakes.
The Rams play their first of back-to-back road games against the Minnesota Vikings the following week. If the Rams are battling for a wild card spot, this game could be huge as the Vikings could also be in contention there. If both teams are fighting for that sixth or seventh seed, this game could be a huge tiebreaker.
A trip to Baltimore wraps up the road trip, but the Ravens won’t be easy. The last time these two teams played, it was arguably the worst game in the Sean McVay era. This could be a potential Super Bowl preview. It’s an AFC team, so a win isn’t necessarily a must, but it would provide good momentum.
The 49ers could have a bounce back season. It was only two years ago that they were the best team in the NFC and in the Super Bowl. They’ll have Joey Bosa back as well as the rest of their defensive talent. George Kittle will be healthy as well. They’ll also potentially have a new rookie quarterback.
If the 49ers return to 2019 form, this Week 18 game could not only decide the division, but be crucial in terms of playoff seeding. Thankfully this game will be held at SoFi, but the stakes have potential to be very high.
Sneaky key game – Week 5 vs. Seattle Seahawks (TNF)
This game might not be sneaky, but it will be a key game. The last time these two teams played was in the NFC Wild Card game and the Rams walked away with an unexpected victory. The Seahawks will have that fresh in their minds on Thursday Night Football. A win here would give either team an early leg-up in the division.
Game Nobody Wants to See – Week 8 at Houston Texans
This is an AFC-NFC matchup. The Rams will be on the road. Additionally, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the AFC. Depending on what happens with DeShaun Watson, Houston may not even have their star quarterback. The Rams should get a win here, but if you were to rank the 17 games on the Rams schedule, the Texans might end up near the bottom of the list.
Trap Game – Week 9 vs. Tennessee Titans (SNF)
I think you could also put the Indianapolis Colts here as the Rams could look ahead to Week 3 against the Buccaneers. However, given the history that the Rams have had with the San Francisco 49ers, it’s possible that McVay overlooks an AFC opponent like the Titans. The Rams play the Titans on Sunday Night Football and then will have a big division matchup against the 49ers the following week before their bye. If trap games exist, this is it.
Revenge Game – Week 12 at Green Bay Packers
The Los Angeles Rams stumbled into Lambeau Field last January to play the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the NFC Playoffs. Aaron Donald was hurt, Jared Goff had a huge thumb, but the Rams still were within one score late. The Rams get a chance late in the year to mark revenge on the Packers and if Aaron Rodgers in under center, this could have huge playoff implications.
Game That’s Gotten Easier – Week 12 at Green Bay Packers
I think this really all depends on what happens with a few quarterback situations. If Aaron Rodgers does in fact not return to Green Bay, this game against the Packers will be significantly easier than it would be if Rodgers was the quarterback. However, I don’t necessarily by into the notion that another game has gotten easier for the Rams.
Game That’s Gotten Tougher – Week 13 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
You could potentially put the Indianapolis Colts here after they traded for Carson Wentz. However, after the Jacksonville Jaguars signed Tim Tebow….just kidding.
The Jaguars are bringing in Trevor Lawrence as they drafted him with the number one overall pick. If the Rams had gotten this game early in the year, I’d really like their chances. However, the Jaguars had a good draft and 12 weeks will give Lawrence time to adjust to the speed of the NFL game. I still like the Rams’ chances, but if Lawrence is as good as he’s supposed to be, this game is more difficult than maybe originally thought.
Bye Week Breakdown
The Rams bye week actually comes at a perfect time. It doesn’t come too early such as in Week 4 and it doesn’t come too late in Week 14. The Rams get their bye in Week 11 before their most crucial stretch of the season. They’re going to need that week of rest to reset and turn their focus to finishing the season strong.
Season Prediction and Expectation
Rams fans should have high expectations heading into the 2021 season. This team traded away two first round picks and Jared Goff for quarterback Matthew Stafford. This team has set their expectations to Super Bowl or bust. That should be the expectations of the fans as well.
Fans should expect the Rams to win the NFC West. It should be expected that this team minimally have a top two seed in the NFC. Anything less than a trip to the NFC Championship game is a failure. My prediction is 14-3 and a Super Bowl appearance. An average 10-7 record won’t cut it this year. If that were to happen, serious questions about Snead and McVay would need to start being asked.