At 3-4 after starting 3-1, the Rams are below .500 looking up at the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West. There's still plenty of football left to play, and with three of the next four games following today, a win against a struggling Carolina is vital.
Making things more complicated are the recent complaints of Carolina QB Cam Newton. Having contacted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell directly, you have to assume the referees will be applying the rulebook very tightly as it applies to hits on the QB. For a team that plays as physically as the Rams and commits as many penalties as we do, I wouldn't be surprised at all if we're looking at a slow, heavily-penalized game, especially in the first half.
Nonetheless, the Rams are going to have their hands full. A raucous crowd is going to be a must if the Rams are going to stave off a motivated Carolina team that is struggling after a 2015 season in which they went 15-1 and reached the Super Bowl.
A three-game win streak.
A three-game losing streak.
Both are behind the Rams. In front of them, a nine-game slate that will define their season and potentially Head Coach Jeff Fisher's employment within the franchise.
That definition begins today.