nfl

Rams get prime-time love in first season without Donald

Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK
Five primetime games highlight a stacked schedule for the newly revamped Rams.

LOS ANGELES — The NFL must like Rams this season because they released the schedule Wednesday and it feature five prime-time games featuring Los Angeles, up from two last season.

It will mark their first season since moving back to Los Angeles that they have played without future Hall of Fame rusher Aaron Donald.

Like every nearly every other team, the Rams released their schedule to the public in an animated video and showcased their loaded schedule.

The bye lands in Week 6, which is pretty early, but justified, as the first five games could be one of the tougher parts of the season. However, they are playing one team coming off of a bye, where it seemed last year they played four teams that were well rested before their matchup. 

Here is the schedule with an outlook on each week’s matchups with this new look roster:

WEEK 1 OPPONENT: at Detroit Lions
DATE & TIME: Sept. 08 — 5:20 pm on NBC
QUICK TAKE: It is a rematch of the wild card round from earlier in the year, with Matthew Stafford returning to Detroit for the second time in his career. There was a lot of bad blood on the field and off the field over the course of the offseason between Detroit and Los Angeles fans, so this one could get heated again. With the Lions improving their secondary and Jared Goff getting a big pay day and the Rams pushing for physicality and secondary help in their offseason re-tool, this is going to be a huge game in primetime. 

WEEK 2 OPPONENT: at Arizona Cardinals
DATE & TIME: Sept. 15— 1:05 pm on FOX
QUICK TAKE: The Rams have historically played well, and to have their first two games on the road is not ideal, but this is a favorable matchup. While the Cardinals did add a ton of new players with a now healthy Kyler Murray, they are still seen as the least talented team in the NFC West. This could be one of the easier games on the schedule, especially coming off of a highly emotional game in Detroit.

WEEK 3 OPPONENT: vs. San Francisco 49ers
DATE & TIME: Sept. 22— 1:25 pm on FOX
QUICK TAKE: Another huge game for the Rams in a matter of three weeks. This 49ers team is the one everyone is trying to dethrone as kings of the NFC. In the week two matchup at Sofi Stadium in 2023, the Rams held their own and only lost by seven points against a powerhouse, so this new look Rams team could make a statement. We all know the competitive relationship that Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan both have, so this could be an early playoff preview as well. 

WEEK 4 OPPONENT: at Chicago Bears
DATE & TIME: Sept. 29— 10:00 am on FOX
QUICK TAKE: These aren’t the Chicago Bears of years past. With newly drafted quarterback prospect Caleb Williams at the helm, and a revamped receiving core, the Bears could pose a threat to the Rams, especially if the weather does not cooperate. 

WEEK 5 OPPONENT: vs. Green Bay Packers
DATE & TIME: Oct. 6— 1:25 pm on CBS
QUICK TAKE: Oh look, the Rams finally play the Packers at home. After years of playing in bad weather at Lambeau Field, Green Bay will finally head to the West Coast and play at Sofi Stadium. This Packers team was a few possessions away from upsetting the NFC favorite 49ers in the playoffs, and with additions to their secondary and a confident Jordan Love, they could be a threat to the Rams in the NFC. 

WEEK 7 OPPONENT: vs. Las Vegas Raiders
DATE & TIME: Oct. 20— 1:05 pm on CBS
QUICK TAKE: Having been to a few Raiders vs. Rams games in the past, this one is going to be a de facto home game for Las Vegas in Inglewood. The Raiders aren’t expected to contend this year, but they will be scrappy and I believe this game will be closer than many expect.

WEEK 8 OPPONENT: vs. Minnesota Vikings (Thurs)
DATE & TIME: Oct. 24— 5:15 pm on Amazon Prime Video (streaming)
QUICK TAKE: The Vikings are one of my sleeper picks this season, and to get them on a short week is not ideal, even if it is prime time. This could be a game where the Vikings catch the Rams off guard and steal one, with new additions to the defensive line and a new quarterback in JJ McCarthy. Kevin O’Connell is a former Super Bowl champion coach with the Rams as well, so he knows the McVay offense like the back of his hand. 

WEEK 9 OPPONENT: at Seattle Seahawks
DATE & TIME: Nov. 3— 1:25 pm on FOX
QUICK TAKE: These matchups are always a ton of fun. The Rams swept the Seahawks in 2023 including their dramatic comeback victory to spark their late season run. While there are some questions about Seattle’s offensive line and quarterback play, they are always competitive. With a new coach at the helm for Seattle, the Rams should be able to get a win in one of the loudest environments in football. 

WEEK 10 OPPONENT: vs. Miami Dolphins (Mon)
DATE & TIME: Nov. 11— 5:15 pm on ESPN
QUICK TAKE: Jalen Ramsey and Odell Beckham Jr. return to Sofi Stadium in what is shaping up to be a star studded matchup between two contenders. The Dolphins have one of the better offenses in football and two brilliant head coaching minds will go head-to head on the national stage. It will be a battle of the warm climate offensive geniuses. 

WEEK 11 OPPONENT: at New England Patriots
DATE & TIME: Nov. 17— 10:00 am on FOX
QUICK TAKE: The first game against the Patriots without Bill Belichick to rip the hearts out of Rams fans in a long time. Although the Patriots are in a rebuild with new coach Jerod Mayo and new quarterback Drake Maye, this should be an easy one for the Rams if they are healthy at this point in the season. 

WEEK 12 OPPONENT: vs. Philadelphia Eagles
DATE & TIME: Nov. 24— 5:20 pm on NBC
QUICK TAKE: Another possible playoff preview with a chance to get redemption on an Eagles team that was lucky to beat the Rams at Sofi Stadium in 2023. Let’s not get it twisted, this Eagles team is still very good, even without Jason Kelce at center, so this could also be another playoff preview in the heart of the season. 

WEEK 13 OPPONENT: at New Orleans Saints
DATE & TIME: Dec. 1— 1:05 pm on FOX
QUICK TAKE: The Rams beat the Saints in a de facto playoff game late in the season last year, but now they head to New Orleans to try to do it again. I think the Saints will be more competitive this year, so these matchups are always fun to watch, even with the history between the two in the playoffs. 

WEEK 14 OPPONENT: vs Buffalo Bills
DATE & TIME: Dec. 8— 1:25 pm on FOX
QUICK TAKE: A rematch of the season opening game for the NFL in 2022, where the Bills destroyed the Rams on “banner raising” night at Sofi Stadium. With all of the questions about the Bills receiving core, they are still one of the better teams in the AFC and should remain competitive in 2024. I expect this to be another tough matchup for the Rams and could toughen them up for a playoff run. 

WEEK 15 OPPONENT: at San Francisco 49ers (Thurs)
DATE & TIME: Dec. 12— 5:15 pm on Amazon Prime Video (streaming)
QUICK TAKE: This is probably one of the biggest games of the season, and although it is in primetime, it is on another short week. Coming off of what I expect to be a tough matchup against the Bills, this one could be for the NFC West title on a Thursday. I do believe the Rams and 49ers will split their matchups this season, so another fun one is in store. 

WEEK 16 OPPONENT: at New York Jets
DATE & TIME: Dec. 22— 10:00 am on CBS
QUICK TAKE: Another trip to New York late in the season for the Rams, but this time to play Aaron Rodgers and the revamped Jets. I loved what New York did in the offseason, and believe the Jets can be pretty good with a healthy Rodgers. This game could bring back some cool nostalgia for those that have watched Rodgers and Satfford duel it out in the NFC North over the years. 

WEEK 17 OPPONENT: vs. Arizona Cardinals
DATE & TIME: Dec. 28/29— TBD
QUICK TAKE: We don’t know the time or date, but this should be an easy win for the Rams down the stretch. Could there be some load management? Hopefully, but more likely than not we will see the Rams take it to Arizona at home if they are in position for a playoff spot. 

WEEK 18 OPPONENT: vs. Seattle Seahawks
DATE & TIME: Jan. 4/5  — TBD
QUICK TAKE: A tough matchup as always but one that could decide playoff spots. The Rams and Seahawks dueled in week 18 in 2023 with a Baker Mayfield and Geno Smith faceoff, which resulted in a slight Seahawks win to secure their playoff positioning. Hopefully the Rams are in as good of a spot as they were last year to where they can rest players on this day, going into the playoffs.