Schedule Will Allow for the Mirage of Improvement

Updated: September 8, 2017

After an off-season of dragging the offense into the 21st century, hiring Sean McVay, and bringing in Wade Phillips, the regular season is here. Yes, the Aaron Donald holdout still looms large and there are questions a plenty but now is the time where fans will get answers. The Rams start off with two home games on the schedule against the Colts and Washington. The Colts game is the biggest gift they could’ve asked for because there is no Andrew Luck and without Andrew Luck there are no Colts. Even without Aaron Donald the Rams have no excuse to lose this game. So what about the rest of the season? Well, the effectiveness of their offensive makeover are debatable but what isn’t debatable is that the offense will be miles ahead of last year. The defense will be better by virtue of Wade Phillips guiding the ship and once Donald comes back he can unleash its full power. The problem is their schedule contains enough tomato cans that these victories can mask any long term lessons that management can learn in the long term.

Given that the Rams haven’t had a winning season since the 03-04 season its understandable for fans to take anything they can get. The question will become how well did Jared Goff perform in said wins and were they quality wins? This is important because the worst thing that can happen is the team over performs and maybe sneaks into the playoffs but does so in spite of Goff. This would lead Les Snead to hang the “Mission Accomplished” banner outside team headquarters and conclude he’s the franchise guy. It’s entirely possible he grows into the job as the year goes on and demonstrates he can get better, if so that’s awesome. But if he struggles in games and basically looks like west coast Blake Bortles that’s a whole other story.

That will be decided in January. For now, the Rams will absolutely win more than the four games they scrounged together despite Jeff Fisher’s contempt for offense. They will get off to a hot start because they will beat the Colts, and they get the rest of the AFC South which means they get Blake Bortles, Tom Savage, and Marcus Martiota. Houston’s defense is tough but the Rams have proved time and time again they can win ugly. Tennessee could be tough but overall they could go 2-2 in the South. They get the Niners twice and while the Rams couldn’t beat them last year that shouldn’t be a problem this time around. Seattle seems insurmountable but Russell Wilson’s line could at least give the defense a shot. Arizona’s defense is great but who knows with Palmer. That right there could net the Rams at least six wins and with games against the Giants and Saints, there is a chance to get to eight wins.

An eight win season would be great and sure, many a Jeff Fisher season would end between 6-8 wins but if they’re winning these games with offense it at least signals an upward trajectory. Fans would have every right to rejoice and if they can manage to pull off a nine win wild card birth by all means fans enjoy it. What should give fans pause though is if they get drummed out of the playoffs and management deludes themselves into thinking they’re closer to a title than they really are. This means they will be in Cincinnati territory where they are on the NFL middle class treadmill. No one wants to be in that treadmill because they don’t actually get better. The Rams should win the easy games but not win enough to make management pop champagne.

Final prediction: 6-10

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