St. Louis Rams: 2010 Strength of Schedule

Like every NFL franchise, the 2010 St. Louis Rams look to improve from last season.  A couple factors might make this easier on the Rams.  For starters, they only won 1 game a year ago…  Secondly, the St. Louis Rams have the 2nd easiest schedule in the league.

ESPN.com’s John Clayton took a look at every NFL team’s 2010 Strength of Schedule, and based on their opponents’ 2009 record, the St. Louis Rams have the 31st most difficult schedule in the league (2nd easiest).  So the Rams do have that going for them.

EARTH CITY, MO - JULY 31: The St. Louis Rams participate in drills during training camp at the Russell Athletic Training Facility on July 31, 2010 in Earth City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

However, their Strength of Schedule (SOS) gives them no advantage in the NFC West since they all play similar schedules.  With an opponent winning percentage of .449 (115-141), the Rams are slightly ahead of the Arizona Cardinals at .445 (114-142), who have the easiest SOS.  The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have the 3rd and 4th easiest schedules, but this is, of course, largely because they all play the Rams twice.  The NFC West plays the AFC West and NFC East in 2010.

So let’s break down the 2010 St. Louis Rams schedule, shall we?

Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, Arizona, 4:15 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, at Oakland, 4:05 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, Washington, 4:05 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, Seattle, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, at Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, San Diego, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, at San Francisco, 4:15 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, Atlanta, 4:05 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, at Denver, 4:15 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, at Arizona, 4:15 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, at New Orleans, 4:05 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26, San Francisco, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, at Seattle, 4:15 PM

The Rams will see only 2 opponents outside their division who made the playoffs in 2009, the San Diego Chargers in week 6 and the New Orleans Saints in week 14.  They’re really the only 2 “lock” playoff opponents on the Rams’ 2010 schedule, but I guess someone has to win the NFC “Worst”.  I’ll take the 49ers if I have to.

I believe Seattle, Carolina, Kansas City are winnable match-ups at home.  Possible road victories include at Oakland, Detroit (their only win in ’09), and Tampa Bay; but it’s optimistic to think this team will win 6 games.

I’m interested in the week 3 match-up that brings Donavan McNabb and the Washington Redskins in town.  You might remember, it was Washington whom the Rams defeated in 2008 for 1 of their 2 victories.  In 2009, the Rams had a chance to beat the Skins, but lost 9-7.

Then there’s week 8 vs. Carolina.

St. Louis Rams No.1 draft pick quarterback Sam Bradford prepares to run a play during day one of the Rams rookie camp at the teams practice facility in Earth City on April 30, 2010. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

This is my prediction for Sam Bradford (right), to make his 1st career start in the NFL. How sweet would it be: Sam Bradford going head-to-head against Carolina’s rookie QB, Jimmy Clausen?  Pretty sweet, huh?  Plus, it makes sense. 1. It’s at home and would surely sell out.  Creating a warm, friendly atmosphere to welcome rookie in to the NFL, not to mention, making a buck or two for the city of St. Louis. 2.  It’s right before the Rams’ bye week.  This could give Bradford an extra week to prepare for the 49ers in week 10, but also assess his mistakes vs. the Panthers. Oh, and there will be mistakes, but having the experience finally under his belt, should make him a lot less antsy coming off the bye. 3.  If Bradford’s 1st start would come after the bye, it would be on the road in San Fran.  In fact, his first 4 of 5 starts would be on the road, and that’s a difficult task for any NFL quarterback, let alone a rookie. This topic is all irrelevant of course, if Bradford is handed the starting job in week 1.  That’s a discussion for a different day. I mentioned that run where the Rams play 4 of 5 on the road:  weeks 10-14 against some tough teams.  At San Francisco and Arizona are never easy wins, and road games at Denver and New Orleans is enough said.  Actually,  “games” in general might be enough.  After all, the Rams have only won 6 of them in the last 3 years. But let’s not dwell too much on the past, because the Rams certainly aren’t.

F363722 55: (NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY) Quarterback Kurt Warner of the St Louis Rams is escorted off the field after winning Super Bowl XXXIV at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia on January 30, 2000. The St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans 23-16. (Photo by Doug Pensinger)

You might recall a little over a decade ago, when the Rams turned their lowly franchise around rather quickly with a new quarterback…

Although this isn’t exactly the same set of circumstances, history does have a funny way of repeating itself.

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