Last year, I wrote that the Los Angeles Rams had a distinct advantage heading into the 2018 season facing off with two home games with the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Chargers. Both of those games ultimately turned into victories for the Rams, setting the stage for a trip to the Super Bowl.
The first three games of the 2019 regular season has a completely different vibe, one that is much more challenging and poses a threat to the Rams getting off to a great start. An away game in Charlotte vs. the Carolina Panthers isn’t the worst-case scenario for a week 1 game, but it’s not a gimme like a home matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even though the Panthers went 7-9 last year, they’re an unpredictable team with lots of weapons.
It’s a perception thing with this matchup because the Rams will probably be favorited on the road. With all of the trap games the Rams had last year, this is more like a worthy challenge for a team that should be building up their identity again as a Super Bowl caliber team.
Week 2 on the other hand, is going to be a beast of a game with hype and emotion at peak levels. The New Orleans Saints, still salty about their loss in the NFL Championship game, are primed to play with gigantic chips on their shoulders. And in case someone tries to argue that the non-call pass interference will be forgotten by week 2...
And after their home game vs. the Saints, the Rams will then travel to Cleveland for a Sunday Night Football game against the newest shiny toy in the league, the Cleveland Browns. This game has the potential of a thrilling shootout, similar to the instant classic Monday Night Football game last year between the Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs.
For a Rams team that will likely not be playing their starters in the preseason, they will be receiving some shots to the chin early on.
There are going to be many NFL “experts” questioning if the Rams took a step back in the offseason. Beating the Panthers, Saints, and Browns to start the season will be an emphatic answer.