The Los Angeles Rams are expected to compete for an NFC West division crown, and perhaps make a Super Bowl run with the addition of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
However, the Rams lost seven coaches during the offseason and have to integrate Stafford in a new offense, along with a new anchor up front at center along the offensive line.
Bottom line? Expect some growing pains early for this group, with improvement in the second half of the season.
The Rams have five nationally televised games, including two on Monday Night Football and a Thursday night tilt.
The toughest stretch for the Rams is from Week 5 through Week 10, with four of six on the road before L.A.’s bye week in Week 11.
After the bye week, the Rams finish with four of seven games on the road, including at Green Bay (Week 12), at Arizona (Week 14), at Minnesota (Week 16) and at Baltimore (Week 17).
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 12 vs. the Chicago Bears, 5:20 p.m.
The Rams start the season in a nationally televised contest for a second straight year against Chicago, a team L.A. beat at home last season. With the potential for rookie, first-round draft pick quarterback Justin Fields making his first start against Aaron Donald and the Rams’ top-ranked defense from last season, L.A should win this one. The Rams open up as 7-point favorites at home. Record: 1-0.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 19 at Indianapolis Colts, 10 a.m.
The Colts will have a new quarterback in Carson Wentz protected by a better offensive line and more weapons than he had in Philadelphia. And Indianapolis’ defense is underrated. But the Rams will score enough points to win. Record: 2-0
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 26 vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:25 p.m.
Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champs travel out West to face the Rams. Los Angeles beat the Bucs on the road last season, a game Brady only threw for 216 yards and two interceptions. We’ve seen what a motivated Brady can do. Record: 2-1
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1:05 p.m.
McVay’s Rams have defeated the Cardinals in eight straight games. Make it nine in a row. Record: 3-1
Week 5: Thursday, Oct. 7 at Seattle Seahawks, 5:20 p.m.
The Rams had a nice win in the playoffs up at Lumen Field last season, sending the Seahawks on vacation. Seattle and Russell Wilson get a little bit of revenger. Record: 3-2
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17 at New York Giants, 10 a.m.
Daniel Jones is still New York’s starting quarterback and he’s backed up by Mitchell Trubisky. Enough said. Record: 4-2
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24 vs. Detroit Lions, 1:05 p.m.
Matthew Stafford faces the Lions for the first time. Jared Goff returns to L.A. to face his former team, along with defensive tackle Michael Brockers. Rams have more talent. Record: 5-2
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31 at Houston Texans, 10 a.m.
It will be interesting to see who starts at quarterback for the Texans at this point of the season. Tough situation for new head coach David Culley. Record: 6-2
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7 vs. Tennessee Titans, 5:20 p.m.
The Rams struggled at times stopping the run last season and Derrick Henry is a load. The Titans surprise and make enough plays to win here. Record: 6-3
Week 10: Monday, Nov. 15 at San Francisco 49ers, 5:15 p.m.
Kyle Shanahan has Sean McVay’s number, and the expectation is that continues in 2021 with San Francisco having a better signal caller in Trey Lance. Record: 6-4
Week 11: Bye week
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28 at Green Bay Packers, 1:25 p.m.
The Rams are 3-1 under McVay coming off a bye week. Yep, Aaron Rodgers had his way with the Rams’ defense last year, but this time the Rams should have a healthy Aaron Donald. Record: 7-4
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:25 p.m.
Jalen Ramsey returns to Jacksonville to play against his former team for the first time as a pro. He will be properly motivated playing against rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence -- and perhaps Tim Tebow. Record: 8-4
Week 14: Monday, Dec. 13 at Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m.
Kliff Kingsbury has to beat Sean McVay at some point, right? Record: 8-5
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19 vs. Seattle Seahawks, 1:25 p.m.
Matthew Stafford is 1-3 against the Seahawks in his 12-year NFL career. Record: 9-5
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26 at Minnesota Vikings, 10 a.m.
The Rams have not won in Minnesota since 2006. Record: 10-5
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2 at Baltimore Ravens, 1:25 p.m.
Rams defense will be tested by Baltimore’s run game and dynamic QB Lamar Jackson. Record: 10-6
Week 18: Sunday, Jan. 9 vs. San Francisco 49ers, 1:25 p.m.
With San Francisco expected improvement this year, this game could be for NFC West title. Record: 11-6