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Rams 2023 schedule: Which games does LA hold QB advantage?

Quarterback is the most important position in football. How will it affect Rams’ 2023 matchups?

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Quarterbacks are more important today than they’ve ever been in the NFL—and it’s reached the point where we maybe over credit them for the outcomes of offensive production and team wins and losses. With that said, the team that heads into a game with a decided QB advantage is likely to come out on top.

With Matthew Stafford healthy and back under center for the Los Angeles Rams in 2023, which games should LA hold the advantage at signal caller? How will this translate to their final record at the end of the season?

General thoughts on Stafford’s ranking, prospects for 2023

Let’s set a baseline for my opinion on Stafford and how I tend to view him versus the field.

Over most of his career, Stafford has been a top 12-15 quarterback. This bares out via traditional statistics as well as advanced metrics such as PFF grading, QBR, etc. Sure, he joined rarified air in 2021 with a win in Super Bowl LVI—but I tend to group his incredible playoff stretch more with other quarterbacks that got hot at just the right time like Joe Flacco, Nick Foles, and Eli Manning when they won world championships with the Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants, respectively.

While Stafford is regarded as a clutch QB who can make magic happen late in games, I think it’s fair to criticize him for not playing better during the first three quarters. You shouldn’t get credit for putting out the house fire when you started it in the first place. Yes, Stafford has shown over his first two seasons with the Rams that he’s capable of creating big plays both with his arm and his mind—though he can be a bit inconsistent and leave some meat on the bone during the routine plays. Routine wins in the NFL.

Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Week 1 - at Seattle Seahawks

Geno Smith’s 2022 season boils down to a tale of two halves, but so does the performance of Seattle’s offensive line—and that is to be expected with two young OT’s.

With Jaxon Smith-Njigba now in the fold to complement Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, and with a strong backfield in Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet, I’d expect Smith to make fireworks in September when offenses tend to have the upper hand.

Advantage: Seahawks

Week 2 - vs San Francisco 49ers

We don’t know who will be under center for the 49ers, though training camp should provide some insight ahead of the regular season. It’s understood that San Francisco contemplated a trade for Stafford before the Rams sealed the deal. How much regret do they have three years later when they still don’t have a long-term answer at QB?

Advantage: Rams

Week 3 - at Cincinnati Bengals (MNF)

Joe Burrow is currently the best quarterback in the NFL not named “Patrick Mahomes”, and he has a great playcaller in Zac Taylor and plenty of weapons at his disposal. This one is an easy call.

Advantage: Bengals

Week 4 - at Indianapolis Colts

It’s probably safe to assume that Anthony Richardson will be the starter in this game for Indy. While he has all the physical talents in the world and a high-floor as a result of his running abilities, Stafford’s veteran savvy should give LA an edge.

Advantage: Rams

Week 5 - vs Philadelphia Eagles

After a major breakout season and a lights out performance in last year’s Super Bowl, Jalen Hurts is the best signal caller in the NFC until someone dethrones him. Will losing his offensive coordinator, Shane Steichen, to the Colts be more detrimental than we expect?

Advantage: Eagles

Week 6 - vs Arizona Cardinals

We will see Colt McCoy, Clayton Tune, or a recently healthy Kyler Murray in this game? Even if Murray is healthy you’d think he’d be shaking off the rust at this point still.

Advantage: Rams

Week 7 - vs Pittsburgh Steelers

This one might be controversial, but Kenny Pickett played decisively last year and finished the regular season on a hot streak. He’s also athletic and can use his legs to offset a weaker offensive line. Allen Robinson joined an already potent receiving corps this season, too.

I think Pickett’s mobility gives Pittsburgh a slight edge here. Don't be surprised if he’s someone we are talking about in the top echelon of QB’s a year from now.

Advantage: Steelers

Week 8 - at Dallas Cowboys

In my view, Dak Prescott is in the same tier of QB as Stafford, Kirk Cousins, and Jared Goff. Stafford is probably towards the top of that tier and can create more outside of structure and plays better in clutch moments—though Prescott is the superior athlete.

Advantage: Rams

Week 9 - at Green Bay Packers

No one knows how Jordan Love will fair this season as a full-time starter, though I think the Packers are just crossing their fingers he’s competent. Stafford is more trust-worthy.

Advantage: Rams

Week 10 - BYE

Week 11 - vs Seattle Seahawks

Still sticking with Smith and his supporting cast over Stafford.

Advantage: Seahawks

Week 12 - at Arizona Cardinals

I’ll buy that Kyler Murray is healthy and back to full force at this point in the season, and I think he’s a better player than Stafford is at this point in his career. The mobility makes a big difference in my view. Murray has been over criticized in recent seasons and is better than the current consensus opinion.

Advantage: Cardinals

Week 13 - vs Cleveland Browns

Is it a hot take to say that all four starting QB’s in the AFC West are better than Matthew Stafford? Deshaun Watson had trouble shaking off the rust last season, and it would set the Browns franchise back in a major way if he doesn’t get back to his standard of elite-level play.

Advantage: Browns

Week 14 - at Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens seem ready to air the ball out under OC Todd Monken, which could lead to a resurgent season with Lamar Jackson. Jackson is a former league MVP and Stafford has not received a single MVP vote in his 12-13 year career, so:

Advantage: Ravens

Week 15 - vs Washington Commanders

Ron Rivera could very well be on the hot season in Washington, and his head coaching future hinges on... Sam Howell? The range of outcomes for the Commanders is as wide as any team in the NFL, though their QB situation could be crippling.

Advantage: Rams

Week 16 - vs New Orleans Saints (TNF)

Derek Carr has plenty of weapons in New Orleans, though the health of Michael Thomas and the availability of Alvin Kamara will be important. With that said, Carr has never quite put everything together and Stafford deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Advantage: Rams

Week 17 - at New York Giants

With few playmakers at his disposal a year ago, Daniel Jones leveraged his legs and running ability to carry the Giants to the playoffs. He is surrounded by more talent in 2023, and he could surprise a lot of folks around the NFL by taking a major step forward in pass production in addition to his already strong rushing. He also has HC Brian Daboll pulling the schematic strings.

Advantage: Giants

Week 18 - at San Francisco 49ers

It’s possible that by the end of the season the 49ers will have figured out their QB carousel. It’s also within the realm of possibility that quarterback becomes the Achilles heel that is too much for even one of the best rosters in the NFL to overcome.

Advantage: Rams

Final Tally & Summary

Rams 8; Field 9

Should Stafford remain healthy for a full season in 2023, I think an 8-9 record overall feels right for this team. The QB position is not the sole determinant. There will be games where a defense full of rookies puts LA in the losing column of contests they should win. The Rams are also fielding three rookie specialists, and something is bound to go wrong there at some point.

Would you be happy with an 8-9 record as a fan of the team? Discuss in the comments below.