The LA Rams will hope to improve on their very disappointing 2016 season. To aid them in this quest is a new coaching staff that will bring energy to the locker room that was lacking during the Jeff Fisher regime.
First-time head coach Sean McVay will be tasked with transforming former first-overall pick Jared Goff‘s disastrous rookie season, into a remolded tapestry that the City of Angeles can be proud of.
Third-year running back Todd Gurley must look forward, and down-field for that matter, in order to bring his game back to a dominating fashion. The addition of some new offensive linemen should help with this mission.
The Rams had a bit of a peculiar draft but added talented skill players in Gerald Everett and Cooper Kupp. Both should have an immediate impact on an offense that was so putrid in 2016. Kupp has great hands and understanding of the wide receiver position, and Everett is an elite pass catching tight end that the Rams hope can put up 2013 Julius Thomas numbers.
So how will the Rams fair in 2017? They made a lot of changes and it will most likely be too much to overcome in just one season, but I do expect a vast improvement from last season. A step in the right direction to say the least. Here is a simulated breakdown on the 2017 season.
Week 1 (09/10) Vs. Indianapolis Colts
Season opener at the Colli. I think this will be a very close game but for the first game of the season (and every game for that matter) it comes down to quarterback play for me. I’ll take Andrew Luck all day, every day over Goff. The offense will show glimpses of good things to come but will make a few costly mistakes as they are still learning a brand new offense.
Result: Loss 17-24
Week 2 (09/17) Vs. Washington Redskins
The NFL schedule committee must have had this game circled as it pits new head coach Sean McVay against his former team. The Redskins took a lot of casualties in free agency and the front office is a mess. As the season progresses, Washington will get back on track and should compete for the NFC East title, but in Los Angeles, with all the emotion and energy swirling around McVay, the Rams will win this game for their coach. Look for Gurley to have a big game on the ground and Kupp to showcase why he was selected in the draft.
Result: Win 27-21
Week 3 (09/21) @ San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have had a great offseason under new GM John Lynch and were extremely impressive in the draft. However, they are in full rebuild mode so there will be some growing pains in the first season. The Rams got shut out in Santa Clara last season, and superstar Aaron Donald was ejected from the game. Don’t think for one second that they have forgotten about that embarrassing loss. Donald has a monster game and the defense as a whole comes up big.
Result: Win 17-13
Week 4 (10/1) @ Dallas Cowboys
Goff should have some success through the air against a Dallas secondary that was decimated in free agency. The Cowboys offensive line will be too much, however, as I expect Ezekiel Elliott to run all over the Rams defense. If Los Angeles wants to keep the game close they will need a big game out of Gurley, thus, keeping the Dallas offense off the field.
Result: Loss 17-31
Week 5 (10/8) Vs. Seattle
The Rams have always matched up well against the Seahawks, especially at home. Nothing changes that in 2017. Seattle did very little to address their glaring need on the offensive line, so Aaron Donald and Co. will eat up newly acquired Eddie Lacy and quarterback Russell Wilson. It will be a defensive battle and the Rams come out on top in this one.
Result: Win 13-10
Week 6 (10/15) @ Jacksonville Jaguars
This is a bit of a trap game. Jacksonville has not lived up to their roster hype over the past few seasons and they are hungry to change the perception of their team. Bortles vs Goff. Fournette vs Gurley. It should be a fun game that pits a lot of young talent against each other. I give the Jaguars the edge for being at home as they steal the game late.
Result: Loss 21-24
Week 7 (10/22) Vs. Arizona Cardinals (Game at Twickenham Stadium in England)
The Rams will have to overcome the jetlag of traveling across the pond for this game. With no real home field advantage for either team, this game will come down to who is better rested and healthy. Does the sun set in the east or the west in England? Goff may not remember the answer to this question but he should remember that the Cards beat the Rams 44-6 in the last game of the season in 2016. Goff will show maturity and improvement and play much better this time around.
Result: Win 28-17
Week 8 – Bye
Week 9 (11/5) @ New York Giants
The bye week cannot come at a better time after having to travel across the pond. This will give them ample time to prepare for Eli Manning and the Giants. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips will undoubtedly draw up some creative blitzes and stunts, but in the end, the Giants have too much talent on offense and are too sound on defense for the Rams to do anything. It’s always extremely disappointing losing after a bye week, but New York is just flat out a better team.
Result: Loss 14-31
Week 10 (11/12) Vs. Houston Texans
The Texans have a very talented, playoff-ready roster, but at this point in the season who will be starting under center? Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson? Either way, the inexperience they have at the most important position always makes the home team the favorite, in my opinion. After a tough loss to the Giants, the Rams will be hungry to stay competitive in the NFC West and the defense will show up in a big way. With the loss of A.J. Bouye in free agency, I expect a big game out of the Rams receiving corps, especially Cooper Kupp, who should have a full understanding of the playbook at this point.
Result: Win 14-10
Week 11 (11/19) @ Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings were a very strange team last season. They started off extremely hot, showcasing a defense that was nasty and could put points on the board. Mike Zimmer looked like he was going to be the head coach of the year, and Sam Bradford had one of the most efficient seasons in NFL history for a quarterback. Talent caught up with them, however, and Minnesota tapered off down the stretch missing the playoffs. After losing Cordarrelle Patterson, Matt Kalil, and Adrian Peterson, and the retirement of Jake Long, the Vikings added Riley Reiff, Mike Remmers, and Latavius Murray, kind of fulfilling that sappy philosophical quote “addition by subtraction.” I don’t really know how the Vikings will look this season but I like the Rams in this game. By now Goff will be fully integrated into McVay’s system, and we will hopefully see the kind of quarterback that the front office saw when they drafted him. I’ll take Gurley over Murray, and the kicker, is in fact, the kicker. Greg the Leg with the game winner in beautiful Minneapolis.
Result: Win 24-21
Week 12 (11/26) Vs. New Orleans Saints
Jared Goff had the best half of his young career last season in New Orleans. It came crashing down in the second half, but at least we saw a glimpse of the talent that he possesses. This comes down to Drew Brees, who is still one of the best at his craft in the game, and who now has a three-headed rushing attack that should be extremely lethal (Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson, and Alvin Kamara). The Saints offense is just too robust and the Los Angeles O just isn’t quite there yet.
Result: Loss 21-31
Week 13 (12/3) Arizona Cardinals
The Rams got the Cards the first time around in England. I expect Arizona to bounce back at home. Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald are nearing the end of their careers, so they will be giving everything they have to make one last playoff push. David Johnson may be the most electric player in the NFL and if he gets going he is impossible to stop. Cardinals in a close one.
Result: Loss 21-27
Week 14 (12/10) Vs. Philadelphia Eagles
This may be the matchup that I am most looking forward to all season. Sports media and bloggers love to create parallels between players that were drafted the same year, like a rivalry is automatically, preeminently born (i.e. John Elway vs Dan Marino vs Jim Kelly, Peyton Manning vs Ryan Leaf, Jameis Winston vs Marcus Mariota, etc.). Carson Wentz had a much more promising rookie season, but this game will create a ton of buzz as Goff will aim to quiet his critics and win the first of hopefully many head-to-head matchups. Winning factor: Game is in Los Angeles. Get your popcorn ready, should be a great show.
Result: Win 31-30
Week 15 (12/17) @ Seattle Seahawks
As stated earlier, the Rams always play great against the Seahawks, but Seattle is too good at home. I expect the Seahawks to win the NFC West again in 2017, but in order to do so, this will be a huge game that they need to win. Eddie Lacy should earn his keep in goal-line situations, and Russell Wilson will have yet another clutch performance in a big game.
Result: Loss 17-28
Week 16 (12/24) @ Tennessee Titans
The Titans were on the cusp of the playoffs last year and they have done a fine job of improving this offseason. If Mariota can stay healthy, this is a playoff roster in a very lackluster AFC South Division that is up for grabs. The offensive line is one of the best in the game, and the rushing attack of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry will be too much for the Rams to handle.
Result: Loss 13-24
Week 17 (12/31) Vs. San Francisco 49ers
At this point, the Rams will be out of the playoff picture, but fans should be excited about the vast improvement they watched from a season ago. New Year’s Eve will be a party in Los Angeles as the Rams take down division rival San Francisco in the season finale. Los Angeles > San Francisco.
Result: Win 31-27
2017 Season Results: 8-8
Finishing 8-8 is considered a disappointing season, but Rams fans should find solace in the advancement that the new coaching staff has implemented. Also, the maturation of Jared Goff should leave a positive taste in everyone’s mouth. I expect the Rams to be competing for a playoff spot in the very near future.