When you look at the divisions that the NFC West had to face this week as a group, you’d think that the LA Rams would be counting their lucky stars. Half of the Rams entire schedule is against the AFC East/NFC East and the only team out of those 8 with a winning record is the 4-2 Buffalo Bills, who are coming off of a 26-17 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
And LA already lost to the Bills.
The Rams wiped out the NFC East, a division that is being led by the 2-4 Dallas Cowboys. As of Week 7, Los Angeles has had the third-easiest strength of schedule by DVOA, with only the 5-0 Pittsburgh Steelers and 4-2 Indianapolis Colts playing teams that had worse marks over at FootballOutsiders. The Steelers apparently have it good in the future too, with an upcoming strength of schedule rank of 24th.
The Rams and Colts are not so lucky. According to FO, only the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars (Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields’ next destinations?) have more difficult roads ahead than LA and Indianapolis in third and fourth.
Next Monday night, the Rams host the 5-1 Chicago Bears, a team that is only ranked 14th in DVOA. They next must travel across the country again to face the 3-3 Miami Dolphins, a team that has won three of their last four games and the closest margin in any of those wins was 24 points. The Dolphins are now 11th in DVOA. Then after the midseason bye week, LA hosts the 5-0 Seattle Seahawks, now fifth in DVOA, followed by another road trip to Florida to play the 4-2 Tampa Buccaneers, the top ranked team at FootballOutsiders.
And if you thought the 3-3 San Francisco 49ers would offer a break in Week 12 based on their slow start, the Niners are now 13th in DVOA and they just beat the Rams. Next is the 4-2 Arizona Cardinals, who are 10th in DVOA.
Los Angeles doesn’t face a team with a below average DVOA again until hosting the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football in Week 14, and all they have is a six-time champion as head coach. The Patriots are 22nd in DVOA right now, but they have convincing wins over the Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders.
The Rams don’t face a team that seems legitimately bad again until the 0-6 New York Jets in Week 15. They close out with a road game in Seattle and hosting Arizona. Other than facing the NFL’s worst team by DVOA after six weeks, and the Patriots, eight of the Rams last 10 games are against teams in the top 14 of DVOA. Two of those games are in Florida and the other two road games are within the division.
Sean McVay’s gotten his team through four road games already, including three trips to the east coast, and come out with a 4-2 record and a ninth place ranking in DVOA. If he wants to get the Rams to 10 or more wins by the end of the season, he’ll need his team to be even better.