Back in April in advance of the 2017 NFL Draft, I offered my initial win-loss predictions for the 2017 Los Angeles Rams in which I had them going 6-9-1. Now with training camp breaking on the heels of a USA Today projection in which they had us going 4-12, I thought it timely to re-visit them. I’ll do the same in between the conclusion of the preseason and Week 1 of the regular season.
Week 1 - v. Indianapolis Colts: W (Previous: W)
No change here. The big news came this week that Colts QB Andrew Luck will open camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Would have been interesting to see how I would have felt about it if I had projected a loss here, but this only serves to solidify a win to whatever minor degree it does so.
Week 2 - v. Washington Former Sean McVay Employers: L (Previous: L)
On one front, you’ve got the injury updates with players heading into camp in Richmond, Virginia. On the other...the drama with QB Kirk Cousins. I think this could be a very close contest, but right now I’m giving the edge to Washington.
Week 3 - @ San Francisco 49ers: W (Previous: W)
The 2016 Los Angeles Rams went 0-2 against the 2016 San Francisco 49ers who went 2-14.
Scapegoat Jeff Fisher all you want. I think this could be a very close-fought battle.
Week 4 - @ Dallas Cowboys: L (Previous: L)
Big one for new Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips, but this roster just isn’t at this level yet.
Week 5 - v. Seattle Seahawks: L (Previous: L)
This is the hinge game of the season for me.
The Rams would head home at 2-2 for an October 8 home game against an NFC West rival. The next game at the Coliseum is November 12.
Suffice to say if the Rams get to Week 5 at .500, this one’s going to be hyped.
Week 6 - @ Jacksonville Jaguars: L (Previous: L)
Rams fans: How long are the Jags gonna stick with QB Blake Bortles?
Jags fans: How long are the Rams gonna stick with QB Jared Goff?
Week 7 - v.* Arizona Cardinals: L (Previous: W)
First change from my previous predictions. I really thought the Cards’ draft class fit their roster really well.
The big concern here is what the Rams are dealing with at left tackle is what the Cards are dealing with at QB: a talented player at a premium position at the very end of their careers. Cardinals QB Carson Palmer is 37-years old. Rams LT Andrew Whitworth is 35-years old. This game could come down to which of the two is both available and playing at a high level quality-wise.
Week 8 - BYE
The key of course is what injuries the timing of this could spell. We’ll have to see when we get there.
Week 9 - @ New York Giants: L (Previous: L)
I really like the Giants as an under the radar pick out of the NFC this year. Go back and look at the odds Bovada released two weeks ago on teams to meet the playoffs. I like the Giants better than the teams favored in front of them, so that’s just pad money. They may be a team that just has to outscore teams in some shootouts, but I’m ok with that style of team in the modern NFL.
Sadly for the Rams, a road test against this caliber of roster doesn’t bode well. I think at this point as well, you have to factor in some injuries and consider the depth on roster...which doesn’t work in the Rams’ favor.
Week 10 - v. Houston Texans: L (Previous: L)
I think there’s a bit of Texans v. Titans in which up and coming AFC team you want to buy into...and I’m torn between both.
It’s worth taking account of the Texans doing things the way the Rams were supposed to under Jeff Fisher. In the last two years, Houston has offered one of the best defenses in the NFL while fielding one of the league’s worst offenses, and each year they finished with a winning record and made the playoffs last year doing so with QB Brock Osweiler manning the ship (which should end any discussion of “being a QB away” of a winning record...). Could they make a leap this year? Sure. But if they do, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s because of the defense and not rookie QB DeShaun Watson.
The real issue here is that this drops the Rams to 2-7. Obviously, we’re all hoping this isn’t how things shake out. I do wonder that if this season comes close to this how fans will respond. How will attendance wane heading into mid-November? How will fans feel about the McVay era if it begins this way? Will Jared Goff still be the starting QB? I feel pretty comfortable answering the first of those. I don’t with the latter two.
Week 11 - @ Minnesota Vikings: W (Previous: W)
This is shaping up to be a Ghost of Christmas Past game for the Rams with Sam Bradford and Case Keenum vying for the starting gig with Teddy Bridgewater on the PUP list.
I think this could be one of those late-season games where new Rams Head Coach Sean McVay’s instruction starts to sink in and we see some of the Rams’ youth begin to emerge on the NFL level in a telling road game between two teams re-tooling things.
Week 12 - v. New Orleans Saints: W (Previous: W)
This one’s close too, but I think the Saints could be ready to fall off especially given that this is Drew Brees last season under contract and thus potentially his last season in the NFL...
Week 13 - @ Arizona Cardinals: L (Previous: L)
I’m so torn on Arizona this year. Could they get by the Seahawks? Are they positioned to be a legitimate factor in January?
Week 14 - v. Philadelphia Eagles: W (Previous: W)
Goff v. Wentz is more than just a QB showdown. It’s a marker for both franchises. A win at home would go a long, long way in validating whatever progress is being made under the new coaching staff by this point.
Week 15 - @ Seattle Seahawks: L (Previous: L)
Not in Seattle this late in the season with the Seahawks fighting for home-field advantage in the postseason.
Week 16 - @ Tennessee Titans: L (Previous: L)
The Titans/Texans dichotomy gets a fine gauge from the Rams who play both this year, albeit with Houston coming to the Coliseum as opposed to this road game for the Rams.
Week 17 - v. San Francisco 49ers: W (Previous: T)
I’ll buy into the draft and free agency roster combinations to flip this one. And sure, maybe it’s a bit of homer’s bias. But I like the idea of McVay’s Year 1 ending with a clear foil to 2016.
As I mentioned above, the Rams were swept by the Niners in what proved to be their only wins of the year. Flipping an 0-2 in 2016 to a 2-0 in 2017 with a season-capping win to end a 4-3 run could be the kind of keystone to propel the Rams into a breakout 2018 season. I’m not saying it’s a simple binary outcome - win this game and hello playoffs in 2018 v. lose it and it’s more SOSAR.
But I could see meaning in a Goff to Kupp touchdown here. A John Johnson-forced turnover. Two sacks from Aaron Donald on his new contract...
Let a man dream.