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What an eight game season would look like for the St. Louis Rams

The NFL is preparing for all possibilities. When the league pulled the tarp off the 2011 schedule in April, astute observers immediately noticed a contingency built into the schedule should the lockout eat away the first three gamesof the season. Today comes news that the league has plans in place for a season shortened much further than that, all the way to eight games. Hopefully, it doesn't come to that. Nevertheless, it would dramatically alter the St. Louis Rams' schedule and likely outcomes for the 2011 season. 

First of all, there's no telling exactly how that schedule might look. The assumption is that it would start in late November and bleed into two additional weeks to January 15. For the sake of argument, let's assume teams would play their final eight games of the schedule. 

Spagnuolo would open the season facing his old offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, in Cleveland. Of course, two branches from the Andy Reid coaching tree wouldn't be the only story. The Red River Rivalry would break the sports writer cliche machine as Sam Bradford faces off against Colt McCoy

Many of the toughest games on the Rams schedule would disappear. Gone are their games against the NFC East, a schedule that included road games against Dallas and New York, and a season opener in St. Louis against the Eagles. Also nixed, a trip to Green Bay to battle the champs in October. Home games against Baltimore and New Orleans would also be wiped out.

Damn, that's a tough first half for the Rams. 

As far as prime time spots go, kiss a week two Monday night bout with the Giants goodbye. A Monday night game against the Seahawks is still on the schedule, but I can't imagine the prime time schedule won't get revised a bit under this scenario.

The Rams would lose one division game under this scenario, a week nine road trip to Arizona, their eighth game of the season. Missing out on a chance to play the Cardinals, or any NFC West team, takes away a very real opportunity for a win...and a shot at a division title. 

Two non-division games remain on the "final eight" plan, a visit to Pittsburgh and a visit by the Bengals

There's no positive to playing a shortened season. Fans would, rightfully, bemoan the shortened season and undercut the legitimacy. As nice as it might be for the Rams to have those tough games dropped from the schedule, they need that proving ground to gain legitimacy. Winning the NFC West has always been the key the Rams' 2011. They'd still have that opportunity, but what better way to get seasoned for the playoffs than to face playoff teams? 

Hopefully, a near-Doomsday scenario like this does not happen. Maybe pundits and fans just want to be positive after the last three months, but it seems like there is real progress in settlement talks. Let's hope.