Ever since the trade for Matthew Stafford was agreed to in January, Rams fans and pundits have largely looked at the team from a big picture standpoint. They’ve asked if the Rams were going to win the NFC West or win a Super Bowl for the first time in 20 years. Many simply expected the Rams to coast until January and glossed over the details. However, with the season ramping up, the focus has shrunk to a day-by-day laser focus on the details glossed over in offseason analysis. Every game and every player could be the difference between a bye or slipping into an unfavorable outcome.
Looking ahead at the next two months, the Rams have a few games that could change the outcome of the season for better or worse. How the Rams play in these pivotal early games could prove to be huge for the team as final win totals and tie-breakers are calculated and weighed.
Here are the three most important games for the Los Angeles Rams that take place in the near future.
Three Most Pivotal Games For Los Angeles Rams In First Half Of Season
Week One: Vs Chicago Bears
The first game of the season sets the tone. What kind of year will it be for the Los Angeles Rams? Will they be early front runners throughout the season? On the other hand, will they be chasing the division front-runner all season long? At this point, it is clear that at least one of the Seahawks, Cardinals, and 49ers will be starting the season 1-0. Will the Rams be there to match them? With the game starting on Sunday Night Football, the Rams will technically be behind someone in the NFC West before the game starts.
The game isn’t as easy as it looks to be on paper. On paper, the Rams are a much better team in almost every way compared to the Chicago Bears. Whether it is quarterback, receiver, defense, head coach, or another comparison, the Rams have it better.
The Bears will be trotting out a quarterback not expected to survive September in Andy Dalton. Meanwhile, the Rams have a Super Bowl-caliber roster. That said, the Bears have an ace in the hole.
The Bears have a long history playing against Stafford and they know how to limit his production. He might be wearing a new jersey, but he is the same player with the same weaknesses. This game will be closer than most expect.
Week Five: At Seattle Seahawks
Every year, the Rams play the Seahawks twice. In every year of the Sean McVay era, the games against the Seattle Seahawks are often the difference between division winners and losers. With the game taking place in Seattle, a win over the Seahawks on their turf would pay dividends for the Rams early in the season. Not only would the Seahawks likely be chasing the Rams, the Rams would have the advantage of still getting to play the Seahawks at Sofi Stadium later in the year.
The Seahawks have no experience playing in a full Sofi Stadium. Thus, the Rams would have a double advantage over the Seahawks. If the Rams can beat the Seahawks in Week Five, they may be able to sweep the series based on their home-field advantage in Sofi Stadium. Of course, for the Rams, this means doing the hardest work first. However, this results with better chances for the best outcome for the team.
Week Three: At Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If the Rams are serious about going after a Super Bowl this year, they should have this game circled on their calendar. Tom Brady has had a full season in the “Bruce Arians” system and will be fully healthy going into the season. Suffice it to say the Buccaneers are the favorites to end up with the top seed in the NFC this year. That is, unless the Rams stop them here with a win. If the Rams can beat the Buccaneers, not only will the entire NFL be put on notice, but the Rams would own the tie-breaker at the end of the year.
Super Bowl squads have to win the toughest of games to get the best seeds to create an easier January so they can survive until February. The run at a Super Bowl could hinge on the result of this game.
Luckily for the Rams, Tom Brady will be playing the most important regular season game of his career the week after this matchup when he faces Bill Belichick. Therefore, Brady may overlook the Rams in anticipation of the game against Belichick. The Rams will be underdogs going into this one, but they can steal a win if Brady has a less than stellar performance.