It’s far too early to say how challenging the 2023 Rams schedule will be, but according to the 2022 win/loss records the Rams face the 9th winningest schedule next season. The Rams 2023 opponents went 152-133-3 in 2022 and seven of them made the 2022 playoffs; 49ers, Seahawks, Ravens, Bengals, Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants. And many of those teams have already improved their 2023 outlook.
The early betting odds put the Rams 2023 over/under win totals at 7.5 wins.
But just because there is plenty we don’t know about the future, there are things that we do know about each of these teams that will play out over the next few weeks and months.
2023 Rams Schedule
Home: Cardinals, 49ers, Seahawks, Browns, Steelers, Eagles, Commanders, Saints
Away: Cardinals, 49ers, Seahawks, Ravens, Bengals, Cowboys, Giants, Packers, Colts
More than half of Rams opponents are heading into the offseason with questions about their teams’ most important player. Aaron Rodgers has stated that he won’t be a Packer next season and looks to be nearing a deal with the Jets. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are at a stalemate. Even though he has a franchise tag (non-exclusive) there is a non-zero chance that he will never take the field for the Ravens. And this seems even more likely now that Jackson had announced that he has requested a trade.
The Colts will likely draft a quarterback, but their current options are Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles.
Both the Steelers and Commanders have sophomore quarterbacks that they will likely start next season. Kenny Pickett’s rookie season left a lot to be desired and Sam Howell didn’t play enough to judge.
The Saints will start their seventh quarterback since Drew Brees’s retirement in 2021 now that they have traded for Derek Carr. They also have Jameis Winston still under contract as well. The 49ers will enter their 2023 off-season with a quarterback competition between Brock Purdy and Trey Lance. Both are coming off serious injuries. Because of those injuries, the 49ers signed Sam Darnold to their roster as an insurance policy. Although Darnold hasn’t proved to be an NFL starting quality quarterback.
There are several Rams opponents that have very advantageous draft situations. Both the Seahawks and the Eagles have two first-round draft picks, 5 and 20 and 10 and 30 respectively. The Seahawks also have five picks in the top 100. Seattle will look to continue their quality drafting ways. Six of their nine draft picks played a significant amount of snaps including fourth and fifth-rounders, Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen.
The Eagles will look to replace key players lost in free agency with those two first-rounders. They lost Kyzir White (LB), Javon Hargrave (DL), and Andre Dillard (OL).
The Colts and Cardinals are picking fourth and third respectively. The Colts will likely add a quarterback. While the Cardinals have needs across the board, except at QB. They could add Will Anderson Jr. at edge or Peter Skoronski at left tackle.
On the other side of the spectrum, neither the 49ers nor the Browns have a first or second-round pick. Cleveland doesn’t pick until 74 and San Francisco until 99.
The Rams schedule pits them against just two teams with new head coaches, the Colts and the Cardinals. But nearly all of the team have had turnovers at offensive and defensive coordinator. Philadelphia saw the typical post-Super Bowl brain drain in losing both their offensive and defensive coordinators. They replaced Shane Steichen, now with the Colts, with their quarterback’s coach Brian Johnson. They hired Sean Desai from Chicago as their new defensive coordinator when Jonathan Gannon was hired by the Cardinals. Ironically, those are the two new head coaches the Rams will face this season.
New Offensive Coordinators
The Commanders hired Eric Bieniemy from the Chiefs, replacing Scott Turner.
The Ravens hired Todd Monken from Georgia after Greg Roman resigned.
The Cowboys replaced Kellen Moore with Brian Schottenheimer.
New Defensive Coordinators
The 49ers lost their defensive coordinator, DeMeco Ryans, to the Texans. They hired Steve Wilks as a replacement. Which is a departure from their last two DCs. Ryans and Robert Saleh were both young homegrown hires that coached with high energy.
The Browns hired Jim Schwartz after firing Joe Woods
The Saints hired Joe Woods.
Trouble From the Front Four
The Rams schedule has some of the league’s best pass rushers. Nine of 14 of these teams finished 2022 within the top 15 teams with the most sacks. The Eagles had the most sacks in 2022 and the Cowboys, Ravens, and Saints had the fourth, fifth, and sixth most.
The Rams struggled mightily to keep their quarterback protected. The Rams gave up the third most sacks in the NFL last season. That’s more than 2020 and 2021 combined! Injuries to the offensive line were the chief cause of that. That sort of bad luck is unlikely to rear its ugly head in the same devastating fashion, but the Rams need to do their part in ensuring they have five qualified linemen, especially with this level of opposition expected in 2023
The Road Traveled and The Rams 17th Game
The NFC West plays the AFC North and the NFC East which makes for long road trips. The Rams will travel to the Eastern Standard Time Zone four times. This season they traveled there once. The effects of jet lag on NFL teams aren’t necessarily a huge deficit or advantage. The Super Bowl Champion Rams traveled almost the most distance of any McVay-era team, just 289 miles short of claiming that title.
But the rub comes when the dates are set. A thing that does wear teams down is if they are doing a lot of back and forth, zig-zagging back and forth from the east coast to the west coast. To curb the effects some teams have decided to take up residence at a remote site near their next road game to avoid the extra travel. We won’t know how this will play out for the Rams until the dates are set.