The St. Louis Rams' 2012 schedule has been released, and the team opens up the season Sunday, Sept. 9 at Detroit. Other highlights include a "home" game against the New England Patriots in England on Oct. 28 and a Thursday prime-time game against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 4.
Based on 2011 records, the Rams have the fourth toughest schedule in 2012, according to ESPN. The combined win-loss record for the team's 2012 schedule is 134-122, as the Rams play five quality opponents.
Let's review, analyze and predict a record for the Rams' 2012 season. Obviously predictions could change after the draft in less than two weeks; however, predictions here will operate on the assumption that the Rams will at least upgrade offensively.
Regular season (2011 record)
• Sunday, Sept. 9: at Detroit (10-6), noon
LOSS (0-1): Detroit was an underrated team that was better than there record showed, although 10 wins is nothing to scoff at. The Lions beat every team that had a .500 record or below at home last season, and new Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan (just like every CB in the NFL) won't be able to shut down wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
• Sunday, Sept. 16: vs. Washington (5-11), 3 p.m.
WIN (1-1): It is assumed the Redskins draft Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, and good news for the Rams is he probably and understandably won't be quite settled into the Shannahan's offensive scheme quite yet. Expect defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn to put pressure on the young quarterback the entire game.
• Sunday, Sept. 23: at Chicago (8-8), noon
LOSS (1-2): The Bears have upgraded their offense this offseason in a major way, acquiring wide receiver Brandon Marshall and signing free agent running back Michael Bush.. oh, and they still have Matt Forte. Quarterback Jay Cutler with weapons on the ground and air has potential to be a dangerous threat.
• Sunday, Sept. 30: vs. Seattle (7-9), noon
WIN (2-2): The Seahawks beat the Rams by more than two touchdowns in each of the two 2011 meetings. However, poor coaching and personnel decisions determined the outcomes of both games. Don't expect head coach Jeff Fisher to make the same mistakes former coach Steve Spagnuolo made.
• Thursday, Oct. 4: vs. Arizona (8-8), 7:20
WIN (3-2): The Rams lost to the Cardinals in overtime on the road, and by three points at home. The Rams have made improvements heading into 2012 while the Cardinals are essentially the same team with a few slight downgrades.
• Sunday, Oct. 14: at Miami (6-10), noon
WIN (4-2): Fisher takes football personally, and Fisher wants to show the Dolphins that he made the correct decision in choosing the Rams this offseason instead of taking his talents to South Beach. Not to mention, the Dolphins are a mess right now. Their top target for their mediocre quarterback was shipped to Chicago. Does Reggie Bush scare the new and improved Rams' defense as the Dolphins' main weapon on offense? Probably not.
• Sunday, Oct. 21: vs. Green Bay Packers (15-1), noon
LOSS (4-3): Green Bay is just too good for the Rams to seriously compete against at this point in the rebuilding process. The Packers win on the road. They win at home. They win at the Edward Jones Dome.
• Sunday, Oct. 28: vs. New England at London (13-3), noon
• Sunday, Nov. 4: Bye week
• Sunday, Nov. 11: at San Francisco (13-3), 3:15
LOSS (4-5): The 49ers strong point in 2011 was its defense, and all 11 starters are returning for the 2012 season. The question mark for the team was the offense, and they went out and signed Randy Moss and Mario Manningham as targets for quarterback Alex Smith who already had Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis.
• Sunday, Nov. 18: vs. New York Jets (8-8), noon
WIN (5-5): Honestly, who's not expecting the Jets to be in complete disarray at this point in the season? You have one of the most popular faces in all of sports backing up a quarterback who New York fans have grown impatient with, but who has been reaffirmed over and over again that he's the starter. Not to mention a teammate who publicly criticized the new Jet repeatedly.
• Sunday, Nov. 25: at Arizona (8-8), 3:15
WIN (6-5): See above. Home field advantage for the Cardinals won't make a difference for the team who will probably occupy last place in the NFC West for most of the season.
• Sunday, Dec. 2: vs. San Francisco (13-3), noon
LOSS (6-6): Just like 2011, the Rams will probably play the 49ers closer at home than they did away, yet the 49ers are just the class of the NFC West. Solid offense with a nasty defense will be too much for the Rams.
• Sunday, Dec. 9: at Buffalo (6-10), noon
LOSS (6-7): The Bills weren't as bad a team as their 2011 record indicates, and they went out and signed one of the top defensive ends in the league Mario Williams.
• Sunday, Dec. 16: vs. Minnesota (4-12), noon
WIN (7-7): The Vikings won't be that much improved from the 2011 season, letting Fisher's Rams take the win.
• Sunday, Dec. 23: at Tampa Bay (4-12), noon
LOSS (7-8): Tampa is another team that underperformed severely in 2011, but the Bucs could very well compete for the NFC South title this season. The Bucs went out and signed the top wide receiver free agent in Vincent Jackson to pair with third-year receiver Mike Williams.
• Sunday, Dec. 30: at Seattle (7-9), 3:15 p.m.
LOSS (7-9): While Seattle's two wins over the Rams were in part due to poor game management that won't reoccur in 2012, they will still split with the Rams in 2012. Seattle is still one of the toughest places to play on the road.
FINAL RECORD: 7-9