Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is behind us, we can begin looking forward to the initial stages of the 2018 season. While we’re just now into Phase II of the 2018 offseason, the season itself is taking shape.
I missed a good piece last week that adds to that from Bet the Board that looked at the first win-loss totals of the season from BetOnline.ag. Here were their initial odds:
2018 NFL win-loss odds via BetOnline.ag
|Green Bay Packers||10.5|
|Kansas City Chiefs||7.5|
|Los Angeles Chargers||9.5|
|Los Angeles Rams||9.5|
|New England Patriots||10.5|
|New Orleans Saints||8.5|
|New York Giants||7.5|
|New York Jets||6.5|
|San Francisco 49ers||8.5|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6.5|
They’ve got five teams at 10.5 three of which are in the NFC. They’ve got five teams at 9.5 two of which are in the NFC including the Los Angeles Rams. But what begins to really separate the two conferences is the seven teams with an over/under of 8.5 wins five of which are in the NFC.
So just to recap that, 10 of the top 17 teams in these odds are in the NFC.
Yes, the competitive balance in this conference is very, very strong.
So Bet the Board went a bit deeper on these numbers to look at a couple of metrics all of which reinforce the strength of the Rams’ schedule this year. They looked at average wins faced and the Rams were tied with the Chicago Bears for the fourth-highest average. The top three were all in the NFC led by the Arizona Cardinals. They looked across each teams schedule to see how many games were against teams with an over/under of 7.5 or higher; the Rams were tied for the second-most with the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Hard Schedule Players with 13 all behind only the Cardinals. That of course means the odds leaves the Rams with just three games to the reflexive against teams with less than 7 wins.
All of that to say...the schedule looks very, very tough.
Perhaps nobody has put it better than Justis Mosqueda over at Bleacher Report in his post-draft win-loss projections where he has the Rams finishing 9-7:
Two things can be true at the same time: The Los Angeles Rams are one of the six best teams in the NFC, and they also have a brutal schedule.
You may be surprised by their projected record, but when you look at their schedule, it’s more understandable.
Their home games this season are against Arizona, the Chargers, Minnesota, Green Bay, Seattle, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The only layup among those will be against the Cardinals. They also lose a home game to play Kansas City in Mexico City.
That’s a less than ideal situation for a team that rocketed up the NFC West standings last season.
Because of their success in 2017, the Rams have to face one of the toughest home slates in the league this season. Expect a lot of tight games.
In my initial win-loss projections, I went with 11-5. Obviously, those won’t change much at this point throughout the buildup to the season. More than anything, health and seeing the rookie classes take shape over the summer will have the only real impact to projections across the league, but the bottom line is that the NFC is just stacked right now.
I’ll steal another line from Mosqueda’s projections, here from his write-up on the Philadelphia Eagles who he has going 10-6:
With no contenders taking a step back this offseason, the NFC should be an absolute gauntlet.
It’s going to be a gauntlet.
And it’s going to be gripping.
And for the Rams, it’s going to be very, very tough.