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Schedule strength stronger than it looks

Yesterday, somewhere in the not-quite-unconscious, but not-really-awake fog of food poisoning, I had a vision. And in this vision, there was this football team, one surrounded with lots of questions, one nobody was really sure of. Yet it was there, moving through 17 weeks of the space-time continuum with shiny gold and blue uniforms, a quarterback more like his old self, and offensive and defensive lines that exceeded the point of mere competency... was it just a dream? Maybe. But for some reason it did get me thinking about the Rams 2009 schedule, which as you can see is no walk-through.

This morning, among the living (i.e. not on the toilet), I came across this piece about the NFL's silly "strength of schedule" system it uses to set up the season based on each team's prior season record. Only, as the author reminds you right off the bat, teams change, sometimes dramatically, from season to season. Let's take a look at the Rams situation.

Based on 2008 performance, the Rams opponents for 2009 have an overall record of .465. Like any number used to paint a broad picture, that's skewed by the individual teams. For instance, one of our opponents, the Detroit Lions, went 0-16 making the overall win percentage number look a little different. More importantly, look at what some of the teams we'll play this year have done since the close of the season.

The Redskins (week 2, away) spent oodles of money this offseason, headlined by the addition of DT Albert Haynesworth.

The Bears (week 13, away) perhaps made the biggest moves of all, bolstering their struggling offense with the addition of the franchise's first legit QB in a long time.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter. The Rams have to rebuild to compete and being able to compete means being able to handle the toughest opponents. This makes it tougher to get that record back to .500 this season, but trial by fire might just be the best way to make the changes stick.