It’s getting real.
Here’s how things look through the second half of the Rams’ 2019 season:
Week 10 - @ Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)
The Steelers had a rough opening schedule that led them to a 1-4 record out of the gate with losses to the Pats, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens. None of those alone is really all that damning. They’ve righted the ship recently with a three-game winning streak, so Rams fans shouldn’t be taking this one lightly. Should Pittsburgh win, they, like the Rams, would be out to a 5-4 record heading into Week 11.
This one might be about the Rams’ defense. The Steelers’ offense has struggled mightily with QB Mason Rudolph having to fill in for the injured QB Ben Roethlisberger. Rudolph is averaging less than 200 passing yards in his five starts.
Week 11 - v. Chicago Bears (3-5)
Along with the Atlanta Falcons, the Bears have been the most disappointing team in the NFL in 2019. Heading into Week 1, the Bears were among the top five or six teams in the NFL per some sports books. They’re now two games below .500 and nearly out of playoff contention.
The defense is, as predicted, quite stingy. The offense is, as not predicted, quite horrible. And that might be being too nice. QB Mitchell Trubisky has the second-worst QBR in the NFL ahead of only benched Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota. Somewhat similar setup to Week 10 then where the Rams’ passing defense just has to clamp down. No excuses.
Week 12 - v. Baltimore Ravens (6-2)
Rams- Ravens. Monday Night Football. Kind of a big game.
Not a ton of words needed to express how good the Ravens are this year. The defense has been solid, but it’s been their ridiculous offense led by MVP candidate QB Lamar Jackson that has stolen the show. The biggest issue is their lack of quality passing targets, but Jackson’s more than making up for hit with his ground game. This could be a shootout where the Rams’ offense and QB Jared Goff have to put up points if we’re going to have a chance.
Week 13 - @ Arizona Cardinals (3-5-1)
The Cardinals nearly got a huge win this weekend but came up just three points short of the Niners. Expectations were low this year (understandably after earning the first overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft...), but they’re on track to outpace them thanks to a solid rookie campaign from QB Kyler Murray. They’ve still got too many roster gaps to really challenge, but that wasn’t the point of their season anyway.
This one has the making of a trap game largely because Arizona has the makings of a team that can offer a trap game damn near every week. San Fran fell into trap game territory this weekend with the Seattle Seahawks up next. Tampa Bay’s is more trap game provider than acceptor, but Week 11 is another Cardinals-Niners matchup that might prove trappy again for San Fran since they have the Green Bay Packers the next week. After that, Arizona has a bye before our game. And who’s looming for the Rams in Week 14? The Seattle Seahawks.
In the words of Admiral Ackbar...
Week 14 - v. Seattle Seahawks (7-2)
Sunday Night Football. A chance to avenge the Week 5 loss.
Sure would be fitting for K Greg Zuerlein to get one through the uprights as time expires...
Week 15 - @ Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
We gotta see what happens tonight on Monday Night Football, but the Cowboys could come out of this week 5-3 just like the Rams looking at their second half schedule for a playoff push.
The biggest problem for the Cowboys? They’re wasting one of their best teams in a long time. The offense is cranking with new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore running things with a stellar offense line (when healthy) helping QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott star. The defense has plenty of talent for Defensive Coordinator and former USC cornerback Kris Richard to oversee. But the offense’s worst game came at the wrong time in a 12-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 4, and the NFL Gods were clearly tinkering too directly with things in the Cowboys’ Week 6 loss to the New York Jets for their only win thus far in 2019 (that includes yesterday’s game between the Jets and the, to that point, winless Miami Dolphins...).
Talented team with bright young coaching but too volatile to be in the top tier of teams to this point? Hey, that seems familiar! This one has a strong make-or-break feel to it for both teams with the playoffs looming when we get to mid-December...
Week 16 - @ San Francisco 49ers (8-0)
...Fuck the Niners.
Week 17 - v. Arizona Cardinals (3-5-1)
There’s a good chance that, unlike the NFC West matchup at the end of the 2017 season, the Rams will need a win here to either make the playoffs or substantially upgrade their seeding therein. It offers a strange setup then that the Cards won’t be playing for much aside from 2020 NFL Draft seeding leaving their fans perhaps hoping for a loss more than a division win. But man, this game is faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar off. The NFL will look very different in two weeks let alone when this game comes around after Christmas.
It’s a long road. The Rams have plenty of work to do. Like our updated win-loss predictions show, the Rams will be in the playoff mix if they can get a couple of wins coming out of the bye.
Get ready, Rams fans.