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St. Louis Rams 2011 predictions: Playoffs or bust

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Predictions. I rarely venture into the predictions game. As someone that has been writing about the St. Louis Rams for six seasons, my optimism only set me up for disappointment...until last year. Things are changing at Rams Park, for the better.

In fact, we probably need to retire the meme of the Rams changing things up, rebuilding. They have changed; the team is rebuilt. Is it restocked to the point of the league's upper echelon of teams like the Patriots or Steelers, not at all, but the pieces are in place. The pieces used to just fall apart.

In five days, we'll know far more about this team than we've learned through five weeks of training camp and a 4-0 run through the preseason. I've yet to see anyone that predicts a win over the Eagles, even though the Rams are 4-5.5 point underdogs.

The TST front page staff all ventured some predictions for the 2011 season. Predictions for the final record vary, but all of us foresee a division championship. And what happens beyond that? Have a look.

Final record: 9-7
Playoffs: Rams lose the Wild Card game at home to the Saints

We know the schedule isn't pretty going into and coming out of the bye, but three out of the first four games are at home and three out of the four away games beyond the bye are against weak teams, IMO (Dallas, Arizona and Cleveland). There's no real excuses in my mind, save for any forthcoming injuries. This team should win the NFC West (damn, that feels nice to say).

Final record: 8-8
Playoffs: Lose to the Saints in the Wild Card game, 31-21

This isn't the same Rams that wen 1-15 in 2009. These Rams are more determined after last years disappointing week 17 game against the Seahawks. That game was embarrassing for the team, the fans, and the city. You can tell by their demeanor, that the Rams expect to at least win the division this season. The Rams front office thinks so also, you can tell that by just looking at the acquisitions they made this offseason. The Rams finally have talent in a lot of places and anything less than 8-8 will be a disappointment. If the Rams had a couple of their hard games later I would have gave them a better record. The Rams aren't elite yet, but they should get there sooner than later.

Brick Top
Final record: 9-7
Playoffs: Rams lose Wild Card game at home to the Falcons

The schedule is going to be very tough in the beginning for the Rams, lucky for them in the second half it gets way easier mostly due to they get to play the other NFC West team (teams who the Rams are better than.) I'm picking the Rams to win 5 of the 6 division game this year so that means that with the rest of our tough schedule we only have to win 4 more games to reach my prediction, which isn't that unfeasible as we are playing teams like the Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Redskins. We should have a good chance at winning those four games and have a chance to win almost all of our games. Our Rams are certainly the favorites to win the west and I expect nothing less out of this team.

Final record: 10-6
Playoffs: Win the wild card game, and lose in the division game to the Falcons.

Many teams play tough schedules. The Rams didn't get lucky, we get that. But they play 6 games against the NFC West. Those are all winnable games. I find it hard to believe they couldn't pull out 4 out of the other 10. If they stay healthy, I don't see one reason why they couldn't go as far as I said they would.

Final record: 10-6

I don't recall who first made the observation that we are lucky to be playing the Eagles early in the year. Cudos to whoever you are, because you are right. So right in fact, that I think this "early to win" possibility could last longer than just the first week of the season. Call me crazy...Actually don't call me crazy. I no longer feel my mailbox is trying to attack me and the voices have all but disappeared... Anyway, I think we come out on the high side of the Dante inspired first eight games of this season, going 6-2. Our troubles will lay with the usual suspects: Seattle and (ick!) the 49ers. Lack of quality depth in the offensive line and cornerback will cost us as the season progresses. We win the NFC West and the first round of the playoffs against Tampa Bay, only to be sent home by the ________ . (Fill in the blank, because I think this year will have post season teams that aren't listed as current favorites to win their division).

Final record: 9-7
Playoffs: If they stay healthy, this is a team that could surprise. From what I understand, the head coach knows a thing or two about knocking off favored teams. Spagnuolo gets the Rams to the second round of the playoffs.

Pundits feel charitable this year, typically giving the Rams an 8-8 in their season previews. It certainly passes the eyeball test in a weak division and with a schedule front loaded with the NFC East and AFC North. Season predictions should be so easy. Any given fan knows that on any given Sunday in any given season things change. The Rams will pull off an upset or two on the way to a 9-7 record.

This is completely new territory. I honestly don't know what to expect from this Rams team. Predicting the Rams used to be easy, a debate between 3-7 wins. Now, much more is possible. More than the playoffs or anything else, this team has to do some giant killing, knocking off some of the more heavily favored teams on their front loaded schedule. If they do that, anything can happen...anything.