Week 1 - v. Indianapolis Colts: W
I’m going in on the Sean McVay era.
Look, the Colts’ roster isn’t in great shape right now. I know, ours isn’t either, but a home opener buoyed by the support of a new era and if you throw in the most important factor...my bias, I’m counting this as a win.
Week 2 - v. Washington Group Of Males Who Play Football Together: L
Sadly, I can’t give us the McVay Bowl Trophy. They’ve finished with a winning record three of the last five years and have a full draft class coming in to patch things up personnel-wise.
There is a fair question as to how Washington will deal with new OC Matt Cavanaugh and how they will fill in the open slots left by McVay and colleagues. Still, the overhaul for the Rams’ coaching staff and inferior roster are too much for me to buy on here especially after the Week 1 win.
Week 3 - @ San Francisco 49ers: W
Don’t assume the Rams win this one. Everyone did that, myself included, a year ago. The Rams proceeded to head up north to open their season by getting trounced 0-28. They finished the season sweep in Week 16.
All that being said...I’ll mark it down a win for now. But nowhere near the confident win I’m expecting a majority of Rams fans to carve in here.
Week 4 - @ Dallas Cowboys: L
I hate the Cowboys. So very, very, sincerely, very much.
Week 5 - v. Seattle Seahawks: L
Seattle could be lowkey one of the most interesting teams this year. Not so much because they’re a factor in the major national top tier. They are. It’s because I’d argue they’re on the precipice of not being so.
The offensive line is still a hot mess, the skill positions are suboptimal save for QB Russell Wilson and that vaunted defense is close to falling apart personnel-wise (see: the potential upcoming Richard Sherman trade).
So I’ve got us losing this, but I think the gap between the Rams and Seahawks (consistently confusingly covered over by the unpredictability of Fisherball and the wins over Seattle it so often provided) could close very quickly over the next 13 months.
Week 6 - @ Jacksonville Jaguars: L
The Jaguars, like the Rams, have been held back less because of personnel and more because of coaching. Freed out from under their oppressors, we’ll have to see who adjusts quicker. I prefer the McVay/Jared Goff combo to the Doug Marrone/Blake Bortles duo, but I’m not sure Bortles is even the Jaguars’ starting QB by the time we head down to Florida.
One factor to keep in mind by this point? You’ve usually got at least one significant injury on your starting roster if not more than one. Last year’s freakish luck saw the Rams get through the season as the healthiest team in the NFL. That’s unlikely to repeat itself. I’m not saying a specific player will be injured by this point. I’m saying multiple non-specific players are likely to be. I’m trying to bake in some predictable unpredictability because of that.
Week 7 - v.* Arizona Cardinals: W
Week 8 - BYE
Rest up, merry gentlemen.
Week 9 - @ New York Giants: L
As long as CB Janoris Jenkins is in the NFL, the Rams should have to play him. If he leaves the Giants before Week 9, this game must be rescheduled to remain in accordance with Jackrabbit law.
And let’s get a Kickstarter going so that Eli Manning can watch the game from his prison cell. I kid, I kid. Let’s not get a Kickstarter going. Heyooooooooooo!
Week 10 - v. Houston Texans: L
This one is tough. I’m torn.
I think this one could come down to health and form. If we’re clicking and things are starting to look better under McVay, OC Matt LaFleur and DC Wade Phillips and we haven’t lost a ton of key starters to the pure evil that are knee injuries, I could see us winning this one. If Houston’s got it working and they’re in form...well, sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes the bar eats you.
Week 11 - @ Minnesota Vikings: W
What an interesting matchup. You could have a Vikings team with Teddy Bridgewater being backed up by Sam Bradford and Case Keenum welcoming the Rams to town.
Oh no! The Ghost of Failures Past!
This feels like a good time for that fluke game where things bounce right. A pick-six or a punt return TD (no, the kind NOT called back for a penalty), or a busted defense that lets a Tavon Austin or Robert Woods or New-WR-To-Be-Named-Later just knife through.
Week 12 - v. New Orleans Saints: W
This one’s close too.
Much like the Rams, the Saints have been very, very, very bad on one side of the ball. Unlike the Rams whose offense has been unwatchable, the Saints’ defense has been their ankle chain. Unlike the Rams’ defense though, the Saints’ offense has been one of the very best units in the league. Nawlins’ O last year finished tops in yards and second in points.
Why am I buying here? Perhaps chalk it up to our overhaul while the Saints have remained pat with Sean Payton at HC and Dennis Allen at DC. Perhaps that stasis combined with the fact that the Saints have gone 7-9 four of the last five years allow them to fully take the #7and9bullshit chain and run with it.
Week 13 - @ Arizona Cardinals: L
Not trying to bite off more than I can chew following a two-game win streak.
Legit question. Would this be the last time the Rams face Carson Palmer as the Cards’ starting QB?
Week 14 - v. Philadelphia Eagles: W
NARRATIVES! DROWN YOURSELF IN AN ENTIRE WEEK OF GOFF VERSUS WENTZ TALK! BATHE IN THE MEMORIES OF THE SAM BRADFORD-NICK FOLES TRADE! SWIM IN THE VISION OF JEFF FISHER ON THE EAGLES STAFF!
I SAID SWIM, BITCH!
Week 15 - @ Seattle Seahawks: L
One day. One day we shall have our comeuppance. Oh yes. Comeuppance indeed.
Week 16 - @ Tennessee Titans: L
It is going to be very painful to see the #5 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft make a very good play in this game. You and I know damn well it’s going to happen. Just adjust your anger dial now.
Week 17 - v. San Francisco 49ers: T
Yeah. I’ve got the strangest of things of all. A tie to end the season.
I kind of like it too. It would leave a terribly odd taste as we exit the 2017 season leaving us a clear bullet of unfinished business to rectify in 2018. Going 6-9-1 would be enough of an improvement over 4-12 to claim some positives. And with some major wins throughout the schedule peaking with the big win over the Eagles, there’s reason to call for enough momentum coming out of this season to help catapult the team into contention in 2018 if free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft go, well, near perfect. And they could!
Look, I know in three months there will be enough digital liquid paper to erase the 4-12 season. Memories of Jeff Fisher will be gone. The comment section, our Twitter feed and Facebook page and Instagram feed will be awash with all the logical reasons we’re going to end up in double digits in the win column and make the postseason. They’ll be near replicas of the logical reasons we saw/read a year ago before going 4-12, but again...by July, 2016 won’t have ever existed.
So take this tongue-in-cheek. We’ve got the 2017 NFL Draft coming up. Sean McVay is beginning his takeover of the Rams, inside and out. Phase II of the offseason schedule begins May 1. There are legitimate things to get excited about! Things are getting better!
But I’m not ready to assume that the individual points of positive change translate into a winning season. And that’s ok! We’ve crossed a desert of 13 seasons without winning football, far more than any other NFL team. I’m willing to wait one more.
Should the Rams find legitimate markers of improvement in 2017 even while going 6-9-1? I’d think TST would be a very, very exciting place a year from now.
That’s enough for me to stave off disappointment. We’ve lived with it for this long.