As we start to break it down, here are five things I think are worth pointing out.
1.) We’re logging AAdvantage miles this year
This year? Travels to Charlotte, Cleveland, Atlanta and London. And that’s just in the first half of the season.
If there were benefits to be had in not traveling much last year, we won’t be enjoying them in 2019.
2.) Late home and away two-game clusters
Last year’s schedule included two three-game clusters and two two-game clusters banding together home and away games. This year, it’s just two two-game groupings: a Week 11 and 12 home-and-home against the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens and a two-game road swing in Weeks 15 and 16 against the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. Three of those were playoff teams a year ago and the other had their season wrecked by injuries. Pretty intriguing matchups no matter how you slice it.
The timing’s key too. The home double comes after the Rams head out on the road to play the Pittsburgh Steelers coming out of the bye. It’s too early to deem anything as must-win contests, but should the Rams lose to the Steelers that home-and-home takes on some serious pressure. The road swing comes amid the December playoff push. The Cowboys no doubt would love to avenge their loss in the Divisional Round of the 2019 NFL Playoffs, and I think we all know how keen the 49ers will be to rebound from their injury-plagued 2018 campaign with a big 2019 season that could bring the Rams-49ers rivalry back to the NFL fore.
3.) Primed for primetime
Five games with national broadcasts. It’s as if we’re good now!
Worth noting only one of them is on the dreaded Thursday Night Football menu. The short week in Week 5 against the Seattle Seahawks will certainly involve a lengthier-than-usual injury report, but such is life.
4.) Division champions pay the price
With the Rams repeating as NFC West champions, it meant we’d have to play the NFC’s best this year yet again. That means rematches against the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears. Dallas was a tough test in the playoffs, but the Rams’ offensive line was absolutely stellar on the day. If they need a similar performance to get through the Boys this year without LG Rodger Saffold III and C John Sullivan with youthful replacements stepping up, it’ll be a tall task. And the Saints and Bears both got the better of the Rams in the regular season last year. Were it not for Rams nickel CB Nickell Robey-Coleman putting Saints WR Tommylee Lewis putting “that boy on a motherfuckin Waffle House fryin pan,” we might not have won the NFC Championship.
Tough tests, indeed.
5.) Only one game following USC home game
Perhaps amusingly, the biggest story of the Rams playing on a roughed up surface didn’t come in the Coliseum. Hell, it didn’t even come in this country.
No, that was the Week 11 game that was moved from Mexico City back to LA due to a chopped up field with pictures on a Monday scaring enough of the players to motivate the NFL to move the game setting a very dangerous precedent.
Strangely, the Rams made no disdain public about the state of the Coliseum field when they had to play following USC games of which the Rams had three games last year. One was a 48-hour swing while the other two were Saturday/Sunday back-to-backs.
The first? Week 3’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers two days after the USC Trojans hosted the Washington State Cougars. EDGE Dominique Easley injured his knee in that game to the point of requiring surgery which ended his season. The Rams also lost CB Aqib Talib in that one landing him on injured reserve for eight games. And compounding things, CB Marcus Peters was also hurt in that game though he opted to play through the injury over the following weeks.
The second? The Rams’ Week 8 game against the Green Bay Packers one day after the Arizona State Sun Devils beat USC by a field goal. Thankfully, the Rams didn’t really pile up any significant injuries in that one.
But the third? Sigh. The Seahawks came to town in Week 10 one day after USC played Cal in the Coliseum. It was the last game WR Cooper Kupp would play in 2018.
Now I’m definitely not saying that field conditions caused those injuries. But were they a factor? Perhaps.
It’s with that in mind that I point out the Rams have just one home game following a USC home game this year: the Monday Night Football game in Week 12 against B’more. And even that enjoys a two-day buffer after USC plays Cal to end their regular season.
For anyone worried that would be a major factor again, it won’t have much of an effect this year...the Rams’ final year sharing the Coliseum with USC before heading to our new digs in Inglewood.
2019 Los Angeles Rams Regular Season Schedule
|1||Sun., Sep. 8||@||Carolina Panthers||1:00pm/10:00am||FOX|
|2||Sun., Sep. 15||v.||New Orleans Saints||4:25/1:25pm||FOX|
|3||Sun., Sep. 22||@||Cleveland Browns||8:20/5:20pm||NBC|
|4||Sun., Sep. 29||v.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||4:05/1:05pm||FOX|
|5||Thu., Oct. 3||@||Seattle Seahawks||8:20/5:20pm||FOX|
|6||Sun., Oct. 13||v.||San Francisco 49ers||4:05/1:05pm||FOX|
|7||Sun., Oct. 20||@||Atlanta Falcons||1:00pm/10:00am||FOX|
|8||Sun., Oct. 27||v.*||Cincinnati Bengals||1:00pm/10:00am||CBS|
|10||Sun., Nov. 10||@||Pittsburgh Steelers||4:25/1:25pm||FOX|
|11||Sun., Nov. 17||v.||Chicago Bears||8:20/5:20pm||NBC|
|12||Mon., Nov. 25||v.||Baltimore Ravens||8:15/5:15pm||ESPN|
|13||Sun., Dec. 1||@||Arizona Cardinals||4:05/1:05pm||FOX|
|14||Sun., Dec. 8||v.||Seattle Seahawks||8:20/5:20pm||NBC|
|15||Sun., Dec. 15||@||Dallas Cowboys||4:25/1:25pm||FOX|
|16||Sat.., Dec. 21/Sun., Dec. 22||@||San Francisco 49ers||TBD||TBD|
|17||Sun., Dec. 29||v.||Arizona Cardinals||4:25/1:25pm||FOX|