With the schedule release last week, the TST staff weighs in on their view on the 2015 slate.
Per usual, 3k is ahead of the game. You can find his predictions here.
I’ll be a grump.
I believe 10-6 is well within possibility, if the Rams are capable of fielding a consistent team and are productive on offense. Fisher doesn’t fill me with confidence in either. Behind this porous offensive line, I have Foles playing a maximum of 9 games and the Rams eke out a 7-9 finish (good for 3rd in the NFC West), and an ignominious final season in St Louis. However, they get 12 wins in their sun-drenched return to LA in 2016…
sergey606 (Best-case 10-6, Worst-case 7-9)
Below is an image of my typical year being a Rams fan and optimism on a 1-10 scale.
As you can see, right now it is April almost May, spirits are high. Schotty is gone, Wells and Long got cut, defense looks loaded, FOOOOOLES!!! In May I'll start really getting excited about this team and all the rookies; by July, I'm ready to pop. Pre-season has me worried a little, but hey it's just preseason, right?!
After game 1: I'm crushed, because this team forgot to practice all summer, apparently. Around game 5: They won a game no one expected then to win, wow playoffs are still a possibility! Around game 10: Hanging on to a distant playoff hope. Around game 13: Why am I still watching this?
I'm not going through this game-by-game or team-by-team, because frankly, insert whatever team name you want on the schedule, it's been a trend that you see on the graph. I could be very optimistic and talk about how great they'll be (it is April-May after all), but I'll be more realistic. Respect isn't given, it's earned - and the Rams haven't done so in over a decade.
Best case scenario 10-6, barely miss the playoffs, Cards and Vikes got a WC spot. Worst case scenario 7-9, 3rd NFC West picking 14th in the draft.
EddieP (6-10, maybe 7-9)
The fan in me wants the Rams to succeed. A 10-6 record would be nice, squeaking into the playoff picture.
Eddie the realist knows that will not happen. The Rams have avoided adding competent offensive linemen. Even if we add plus-prospects in the draft, Fisher has shown he prefers veterans to start off the season, like Davin Joseph over Greg Robinson for the first games of 2014.
It doesn't matter if we have Nick Foles, Sam Bradford, Peyton Manning, or whoever else under center. They won't be playing long enough for them to lead this team. Oh, and kiss that "power" running game goodbye. Can't run the ball if the line can't hold up.
6-10 again. 7-9, maybe.
Nathan Kearns (10-6)
If taiko is the grump, I'll be the glass half-full, blindly optimistic one.
Assuming that Jeff Fisher and Les Snead can reasonably replenish the offensive line via the NFL Draft and the remainder of free agency, the Rams 2015 schedule sets up the squad nicely for their first genuine shot at a Playoff birth. Their toughest stretch of game is, arguably, their opening, pre-Bye gauntlet, and if the Rams can make it out with three wins (e.g. road-averse Seattle, dysfunctional Washington, and Le'veon Bell-less Pittsburgh) , they should be sitting pretty down the road.
After that, six of their next nine games are at home, including should-win games over Cleveland, San Francisco, and Tampa Bay. The rest of the games in that stretch (i.e. Minnesota, Chicago, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Arizona, and Detroit) are all certainly winnable, and merely splitting those in the win column would take the Rams to 9-5 on the year.
That leaves St. Louis in a prime spot to control their own destiny heading into the final two games of the season. The NFL scheduling Gods did grant the Rams an extra three days to prepare and heal for the Seahawks in Seattle in Week 16. Then, they finish off against the 49ers in San Francisco, where Colin Kaepernick and Co. struggled to win last year in their inaugural season on their new "turf." Split those games, and you are looking at...
...the Rams first double-digit win season (10-6) in a decade and one of the Wildcard slots in the NFC
Go Rams Go (10-6)
My 2015 season prediction is 10-6. Here's how it'll go:
Pre-bye week the team should have around three wins. The Rams tend to perform well against divisional opponents so I'll say the win against either Arizona or Seattle and lose the other game. I could also see a split against Pittsburgh and Green Bay, which leaves only Washington; they'll beat Washington.
Following the bye, I optimistically envision a four game win streak. Minnesota was a tough game last year and may be so again this year, but Cleveland, San Francisco and Chicago are all definitely winnable games. After that stretch, the schedule seems pretty difficult. Nonetheless, Tampa Bay and San Francisco seem to be beatable opponents.
Road games against the Ravens and Bengals seem like consecutive losses to me and week sixteen against Seattle also seems to be a likely loss. However, it seems possible to split the home games against Arizona and Detroit, which brings the win count to ten.
That's a pretty good season and may or may not, because of their division, land the team in the playoffs. Of course, there will be some games that don't go accordingly with plan, but there seems to be enough winnable games to land at ten.
I'm generally that overly optimistic fan that's predicting 12 wins at this time of year. But I find myself oddly grounded as the Draft approaches.
As it stands right now, the Offensive Line is the only thing keeping me from being that overly optimistic fan. Defense rules in the NFC West, and without beefing up the OL, it's hard to predict more than 2 wins in the Division. The Rams defense will dominate the majority of teams outside of the division, but a 2-4 record in the division would severely hamper the team.
I think that the Rams are in a great position heading into the draft, but I also realize that I'm in the minority there. If there is one thing that Snead and Fisher have done since coming to the 'Lou it's accumulate talent. I expect them to continue that trend on Thursday, and I honestly don't care where they add OL or a QB...as long as they add them. I have complete faith that they will add the right pieces to bring this team back to .500 at the very least.
But until they bring in that talent, I can't justify predicting more than 8 wins.
Tevin Broner (9-7)
The Rams with be able to win 9 games.
The first 5 games should be easier than people expect. Of course the Seahawks in week one will be a statement game, but it ultimately won't determine the season. The Rams offense might need time to jell with a new QB. But if they can get it going they can surprise some teams.
The Rams could make the playoffs through a wildcard scenario
When the 2015 schedule came out, the first thing I did was look at how Nick Foles managed against these opponents. I realize that some of the opponents' coaching staffs, key players, etc. have changed, but I used it as an initial measuring stick to see his individual success versus these teams. After all, isn't QB wins THE most important stat? Hahahahahaha. Sure.
Week 1 (SEA): Foles has never played SEA, but will have all summer to prepare
Week 2 (@WAS): Foles is 2-2, with a 60.25 completion %, 4 TD/3 INT, 83.1 Rating. 293 YPG.
Week 3 (PIT): Foles has never played PIT
Week 4 (@ARI): Foles is 1-1, with a 59.4 completion %, 5 TD/2 INT, 88.4 Rating, 324 YPG.
Week 5 (@GB): Foles is 1-0, with a 67 completion %, 3 TD/0 INT, 149.3 Rating, 228 YPG Week 6 (BYE).
Week 7 (CLE): Foles has never played CLE
Week 8 (SF): Foles is 0-1, with a 49 completion %, 0 TD/ 2 INT, 42.3 Rating, 195 YPG.
Week 9 (@MIN): Foles is 0-1, with a 62.5 completion %, 3 TD/1 INT, 103.5 Rating, 428 YPG.
Week 10 (CHI): Foles is 1-0, with a 84 completion %, 2 TD/0 INT, 131.7 Rating, 230 YPG.
Week 11 (@BAL): Foles has never played BAL
Week 12 (@CIN): Foles is 0-1, with a 48.5 completion %, 1 TD/1 INT, 62.7 Rating, 180 YPG.
Week 13 (AZ): See above.
Week 14 (DET): Foles is 1-0, with a 50 completion %, 1 TD/1 INT, 73.9 Rating, 179 YPG.
Week 15 (TB): Foles is 2-0, with a 66 completion %, 5 TD/0 INT, 111.7 Rating, 338.5 YPG.
Week 16 (@SEA): See above.
Week 17 (@SF): See above.
So, all that said, Foles has traditionally had good individual success against WAS, ARI, GB, MIN, CHI, and TB. Let's assume wins versus WAS, MIN, CHI and TB, and 1 win versus AZ. That's 5 wins so far, based on teams Foles has traditionally played well against in the past.
Let's also assume the Rams come out gangbusters, and beat SEA at home after neutralizing Graham and stuffing Lynch. That's 6 wins. PIT is a toss up to me, since it is at home. Let's say they sack Big Ben 7 times and without Bell have trouble moving on the ground. So, that's 7 wins. Let's assume CLE still doesn't have their QB situation ironed out, and struggle to find a Josh Gordon replacement in the draft (added Bowe/Hartline in FA). There's 8 wins. So, we are sitting at 0.500. What about the other games?
The Week 8 home game vs. SF seems like a trap game. New HC, dismantled defense and offense. Somehow, Rams find a way to stall. So, I'm going to say the Rams fall short in that home game. Still at 8 wins. Week 11, they travel to Baltimore and face a Ravens team ready to make another run at the Super Bowl. Not feeling good about that one. Still at 8 wins. Week 12, the Rams travel to CIN, and for whatever reason, absolutely destroy the Bengals, like 42-14. We are confused, but there's 9 wins.
Week 14, Rams play DET at home. I think Stafford throws 3 picks (after Megatron is forced to sit out due to some type of leg injury), and the Rams find a way to win that. 10 wins on the season, cumulatively. However, Rams stumble on the home stretch after Foles aggravates something and they are forced to play Austin Davis the final two games against SEA and a SF team that has rallied behind their coach, Super Mario.
There you have it, TSTers. The staff pretty is leaning slightly towards a winning season.. We will follow up after the draft to see how the predictions change.