The Rams don’t need to win their division as we saw them hoist the Lombardi trophy after being a wild card team and losing the division to the Arizona Cardinals. In fact, two wild card teams, the San Francisco 49ers (Rams arch rival) and the Los Angeles Rams were the two final representatives in the NFC so being a division winner is not as important as many people think.
The Rams are coming off of a storybook ending last season that started with an off-season trade for star quarterback Matt Stafford and ended with the Rams winning the whole thing. It wasn’t easy as the Rams struggled numerous amounts of times throughout last season, but they accomplished what they had envisioned following the Stafford trade. Going into this season, the Rams do not have anything to prove except becoming the first repeat Super Bowl champion since the 2003-2004 New England Patriots led by none other than Tom Brady.
The Rams also have the toughest schedule in the NFL that features the Bills (opening night tonight), the 49ers and Cardinals twice, the Chargers, Chiefs, and Raiders, and Packers and Buccaneers. I do think the Rams will break the curse and finally split with the 49ers during the season (something they haven’t done in 3 years, but they did win one head-to-head matchup in the NFC title game which proved to be the most important one).
I also think the Rams will defeat the Bucs in week 9 and the Packers in week 15. I think that the Rams’ floor is 11 wins and their ceiling is 12 wins (considering their tough schedule). Anyone who doesn’t think this talented of a team is winning at least 11 games needs to rewatch the Rams tape from last season. They will find ways to win games they need to win to get into the postseason.
Many of my Rams fans friends, including fellow Sporting Tribune contributor Grant Mona, have told me that the 49ers will win the division, not the Rams, but I just don’t see that happening. Matthew Stafford (4,886 passing yards last season and 41 touchdowns 3rd and 2nd respectively in the NFL)and Cooper Kupp’s (145 receptions, 1,947 receiving yards, and 16 touchdowns to win the triple crown last season) connection is the best in football (only rivaled by Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase) and they are poised to at least get close to repeating their production. I know many fans are petrified of Stafford’s arm being a problem (especially after his week 1 performance), but both Stafford and Head Coach Sean McVay said he is ready for week 2 and has no limitations in his throwing arm.
The addition of Allen Robinson II is also huge, as he was wasted in Chicago for the prime years of his career and still managed to put up amazing numbers with Mitchell Trubitsky as his quarterback. He will have an amazing year and is much better than last year’s #2 receiver, Robert Woods, and will take a lot of pressure of of both Stafford and Kupp.
Tyler Higbee became of the more consistent tight ends in the NFL last season (61 receptions and 560 receiving yards) and is poised for another big year, while running back Cam Akers is healthy, wanting to prove to the world he is a dynamic back and not an avid fumbler (as we saw in the postseason last year). Even Van Jefferson is the best 3rd string wide receiver in football and is a vertical threat that can open the field for the offense (as we saw last season, but he is still sidelined due to an injury).
Offensively, the Rams finished 9th in total yards per game, 5th in total passing yards per game, and 8th in total points scored per game per Pro Football Reference. They will be able to repeat their stellar offensive season from last year, but it should be even better with a healthy Cam Akers (who is way more capable than Darell Henderson Jr.) and Allen Robinson II, who is more talented than Robert Woods.
Defensively the Rams bring back Super Bowl Champ and the league’s best defensive player in Aaron Donald, who is poised to have another big season after signing his major contract extension, and Jalen Ramsey, the NFL’s best cornerback who can lockdown any wide receiver. They brought in one of the league’s best linebackers in Bobby Wagner, and Leonard Floyd should only further improve as a pass-rusher. Justin Hollins is poised for a big year as he will have to replace Von Miller, and A’Shawn Robinson and Greg Gaines should improve as well. Pro Football Focus ranked the Rams’ defensive line at #1 for a reason as they will wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
Last season, the Rams’ defense was supposed to be elite but faltered in many ways. It ranked 15th in yards per game and total yards given up on the season and ranked 22nd in passing yards given up per game. Against the run, the Rams D line took care of business finishing 5th in rush yards given up per game, but the secondary needs to improve immensely alongside Jalen Ramsey for this team to get to where they want to be. We will see how they do against one of the most high-octane offenses in the NFL tonight in the Bills as it should give us a glimpse of how the secondary looks against the NFL’s elite. Nonetheless, I expect the Rams to win the Divison and below I have their game-by-game schedule and predictions.
Week 2: Atlanta Falcons @ Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, September 18th
After a brutal loss in week 1 to the Bills, the Rams will be motivated to take out their frustration on the Falcons and they will win by 2 touchdowns. Kupp will get 2 receiving TD’s, and Stafford will throw for 4 total touchdowns and redeem himself.
Prediction: Rams defeat Falcons 42-21
Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, September 25th
The first tough divisional game for the Rams is in Arizona, and Kyler Murray and the Cardinals always start off the year hot. No DeAndre Hopkins will be the difference in this game as Kyler Murray will try to force the ball to Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore, allowing Jalen Ramsey and the Rams secondary to pick him twice and set up two Matthew Stafford touchdowns. The Rams win a close one in Arizona.
Prediction: Rams defeat Cardinals 28-21
Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers, Monday, October 3rd
The 49ers are always a tough matchup for the Rams, but Jimmie Ward is set to miss 4 weeks for the 49ers and will not play in this game. Ward usually kills the Rams and with no elite safety for the 49ers, Stafford and Kupp will tear them to pieces. Expect Trey Lance to struggle tremendously against the league’s best D line and throw an interception and fumble. Also, expect Higbee to get involved more in this matchup and catch a touchdown. The Rams will win their first head-head matchup against the 49ers in the regular season in 3 years. Better yet, it will be in San Francisco.
Prediction: Rams defeat 49ers 30-24
Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, October 9th
The Rams head into this game 3-1 clicking on all cylinders following their week 1 loss to the Bills. Dallas will be motivated to beat the Rams but Cooper Rush will be too fixated on CeeDee Lamb to get the job done. Jalen Ramsey will pick Prescott once and Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd will each record sacks on Dak Prescott as the Rams will win a close one at home.
Prediction: Rams defeat Cowboys 28-24
Carolina Panthers @ Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, October 16th
Christian McCaffrey and Baker Mayfield will play better than expected in this matchup and keep it close, but the Rams are far too talented to lose this game. Darell Henderson Jr. will catch a touchdown pass and so will both Allen Robinson and Cooper Kupp.
Prediction: Rams defeat Panthers 35-21
The Rams enter the bye week with a 5-1 record and an NFC West lead that is pretty comfortable after wins over both the 49ers and Cardinals. However, the schedule only gets tougher the rest of the way.
San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, October 30th
This will be a tough game for the Rams as the 49ers will be hitting their stride with Trey Lance and are coming off of a surprising regular season defeat against the Rams at home. Lance will run for 50 yards and a touchdown and throw for 3 passing touchdowns in this one and the 49ers defense will get its revenge and stifle Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp.
The Rams will be ill-prepared for this game despite having a bye week, which is why they say that sometimes it’s just better not to have a bye week when you are on a winning streak. This is applicable to the Rams and how they will struggle in this game despite a 5 game winning streak going into the contest.
Prediction: 49ers defeat Rams 31-17
Los Angeles Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, November 6th
Man, the Bucs are going to want revenge for their playoff loss in Tampa Bay to the Rams, but the Rams will stay poised and Stafford will go head to head with Brady down the stretch. This will be about which defense can stop the opposing team once in the 4th quarter and although the Bucs have a ton of playmakers, I am rolling with the Rams to upset the Bucs on the road.
Prediction: Rams defeat Bucs 35-28
Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, November 13th
The Cardinals will want to avenge their loss to the Rams at home in week 3, but they won’t get it. The Cardinals’ collapse will come a little bit earlier than expected this season and it’ll start with a brutal loss to the Rams on the road. Kyler Murray will fumble twice and throw an interception and the Rams will click on all cylinders with Rams’ RB’s rushing for 2 touchdowns, Kupp catching 2 touchdowns, and even Van Jefferson pulling in a touchdown. The Rams will win this one easily despite the odds being stacked against them.
Prediction: Rams defeat Cardinals 45-20
Los Angeles Rams @ New Orleans Saints, Sunday, November 20th
The Rams head to New Orleans with a 7-2 record and the #1 seed in the NFC, while the New Orleans Saints will be leading the NFC South at this point as well. This is a big-time trap game for the Rams, who will get ahead of themselves and not prepare for the bloodbath this matchup is going to be. Alvin Kamara will go off for 100 receiving yards and 50+ rushing yards with 2 touchdowns, Jamies Winston will tear the Rams secondary apart, and even Michael Thomas will secure a touchdown and 80+ yards receiving. This will be a week to forget for the Rams as the Saints will cruise to a victory at home against the NFC’s best.
Prediction: Saints defeat Rams 38-24
Los Angeles Rams @ Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, November 27th
The Rams will be better prepared for the Chiefs, who will enter this game in second place in the AFC West and need a win to keep pace with the division-leading Los Angeles Chargers. Patrick Mahomes will be his special self finding JuJu Smith-Schuster twice in the end zone and connecting with Travis Kelce for well over 100 yards. Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp will also tear apart the Chiefs’ horrid defense, but it won’t be enough in the end as Mahomes and the Chiefs will come out on top.
Prediction: Chiefs defeat Rams 45-38
Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, December 4th
The Rams now enter this matchup tied with the San Francisco 49ers at 7-4 for the NFC West lead and desperately need a win to maintain their rank in the division. They’ll get one as Matthew Stafford, Cam Akers, Allen Robinson II, and Cooper Kupp will all go off and dominate the Seahawks following two tough losses in a row. That’s not to say that D.K. Metcalf won’t find the end zone at least once despite having Geno Smith as his QB. In fact, DK Metcalf will punish the Rams’ secondary in this one. It just won’t be nearly enough to keep the Seahawks in this game as they’ll lose by 20.
Prediction: Rams defeat Seahawks 40-20
Las Vegas Raiders @ Los Angeles Rams, Thursday, December 8th
Now this will be a tough game for the Rams as they will be coming off only 3 days’ rest before this star-studded matchup at SoFi Stadium. The Raiders will also be gassed for this game, and it won’t be as high scoring as one would think. The Rams will finish strong despite trailing in the second half and win 27-17 against the Raiders to improve to 9-4.
Prediction: Rams defeat Raiders 27-17.
Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay Packers, Monday, December 19th
The Rams will be ready for this one as they’ll have 10 days to prepare for the Packers in Green Bay. It will be cold and Aaron Rodgers will work some magic, but the Rams will still come out on top and shut the Packers out in the 4th quarter to win by 6.
Prediction: Rams defeat Packers 30-24
Denver Broncos @ Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, December 25th
Another trap game for the Rams following three stellar victories in a row, this one will be harder than people think. The Broncos will be vying for a playoff spot at this point in the season and will want to gain momentum within their division as well with a win, whereas the Rams are again a top 3 seed in the NFC and leading the NFC West division coming into this game. I think we will see a Russell Wilson masterclass in this one, but it will be Javonte Williams who wins it for the Broncos as he will go off for 160 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.
Prediction: Broncos defeat Rams 31-21
Los Angeles Rams @ Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, January 1st
The Chargers will enter this matchup leading the AFC West with an 11-4 record. Going up against the defending Super Bowl Champs Los Angeles Rams in a crosstown matchup, the Chargers will have their work cut out for them. The NFC West will still be up for grabs in this game as the 49ers and Rams will be neck and neck with a record of (both 10-5) and the Rams will desperately need a win to outpace the 49ers and Cardinals record-wise.
Matthew Stafford will throw 1 touchdown to Cooper Kupp and the Rams will rush for 2 touchdowns as well with both Cam Akers and Darell Henderson Jr. Justin Herbert will throw 2+ touchdowns and put the Chargers in a good position in this game, but a costly interception from Herbert to Jalen Ramsey will give the Rams momentum and they won’t look back.
The Chargers just need one win to clinch a playoff berth and this isn’t a divisional matchup anyways as the big game will be the following week against the Broncos. I think that the Rams’ intensity will be just that much higher and the Chargers will lose by a touchdown as a result since the Rams will just want it more.
Prediction: Rams defeat Chargers 28-21
Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, January 8th
The Rams enter this matchup 11-5 and would clinch the NFC West with a win here in Seattle. This one will be closer than people think as the Seahawks will want to close out a disappointing year with some hope, but the Rams aren’t gonna let that happen with the division on the line. I expect Matthew Stafford to struggle in the first half, but to turn it up a notch in the second half with 4 total TDs in quarters 3 and 4. The Rams will win this one by a touchdown.
Prediction: Rams defeat Seahawks 35-28 to win the NFC West and clinch the #3 seed in the NFC with a 12-5 record.
There you go! The Rams will win the NFC West and enter the playoffs in a good position with the #3 seed behind the Eagles and Bucs/Saints. I won’t make any postseason predictions right now, but Rams fans are in for another solid year and the team won’t disappoint.