St. Louis Rams: Official Game-by-Game Predictions for the 2012 Season
The rest of the NFL will follow their lead this coming Sunday and Monday.
The Rams are coming off an aggravating two-win season but they are also just two years removed from a promising 7-9 record.
This year, the Rams will try to avoid disaster and field a team that's somewhat competitive, which is probably a best-case scenario for them.
This is the third consecutive year I have produced an article predicting the outcome of the upcoming season.
In 2010, I hit a bullseye and predicted a 7-9 record.
In 2011, I figured the Rams would build off their promising 7-9 season and move up to 10-6, but that prediction proved to be wildly inaccurate.
Read on for my official 2012 predictions.
Week 1: Rams at Lions (Loss)
The Rams will play the first game of the Jeff Fisher era on the road against an extremely difficult opponent.
Since it's the opening game, there's a good chance both teams will show up ready to play hard. The Rams will stay competitive, but the Lions should pull off the win.
Despite the Rams' improved secondary, the Matthew Stafford-to-Calvin Johnson combo is too potent to contain. Also, the Lions' pass rush will overwhelm a struggling Rams offensive line.
If the Rams create turnovers and maintain drives then they'll have a shot, but it's a tall order.
Overall Record: 0-1
Week 2: Rams vs Redskins (Win)
Many media outlets are raving about the new and improved Washington Redskins, but I'm not buying it.
The praise is simply due to Washington being a popular team. We heard the same nonsense when Donovan McNabb was signed.
Yes, Robert Griffin III has far more upside than an aging McNabb, but this will only be the second game of his career, which means he'll still be adjusting.
As far as overall talent, the Redskins do not exceed the Rams by any means. Both teams have weaknesses, but the Rams will be on their home turf.
Don't buy the hype. Chalk this up as a win.
Overall Record: 1-1
Week 3: Rams at Bears (Loss)
This early in the season, the Rams may find a way to catch the Bears off-guard and pull off a win, but that's unlikely.
This will be a tough road game. The St. Louis offense will struggle, while Matt Forte and the Bears offense should be able to maintain a steady lead.
Overall Record: 1-2
Week 4: Rams vs Seahawks (Win)
Many analysts are raving over the Seahawks and their impressive group of defensive talent; their gushing is well-warranted.
Seattle has the best secondary in the NFL, and their defensive line is no joke either.
However, their offense is led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, so there will be mistakes early on. Plus, there's not a scary amount of offensive talent outside of Marshawn Lynch, but even Lynch isn't guaranteed to produce if you look at his history.
The Rams are capable of playing tough at home, so we'll give them this win and credit it to Wilson's early-season growing pains.
Overall Record: 2-2
Week 5: Rams vs Cardinals (Win)
I've said it before and will say it again—the Rams are, pound-for-pound, a better and more talented team than the Cardinals.
You can call it bias or "homerism," but the Rams have a better quarterback, running back, offensive line, defensive ends, secondary and linebackers.
Even last season when the Rams were a walking disaster, the Cardinals could barely pull off their two wins.
The Rams win this game and they win it with ease.
Overall Record: 3-2
Week 6: Rams at Dolphins (Loss)
In this scenario, the Rams are entering their game against Miami with a 3-2 record and new sense of self-respect.
This represents their first winnable road game, and there's a good chance the Rams could enter this game as the favorites.
But just as I think they'll pick up at least one surprise win this season, they'll also suffer at least one surprise loss.
The Rams will struggle on the road, especially early on in the year. Even a mediocre opponent such as Miami presents a formidable threat.
Overall Record: 3-3
Week 7: Rams vs Packers (Loss)
After a surprising 3-3 start to the season, the Rams unfortunately enter the toughest part of their schedule when Green Bay comes to town in Week 7.
They'll get a loss here, but let's hope they leave the game with a few moral victories.
Overall Record: 3-4
Week 8: Rams vs Patriots (Loss)
Any game against the New England Patriots is going to be tough, but the Rams didn't do themselves any favors by turning this home game into an overseas escapade to London.
This is pretty much a road game in every sense of the word, and the Patriots are a superior team.
It's hard to see a scenario where the Rams pull off a win.
Overall Record: 3-5
Week 9: Bye
The Rams have a Week 9-bye this season, which gives them a nice break in the middle of a difficult portion of the schedule.
The Rams enter the bye week after a three-game losing streak, which gives them an opportunity to get refocused before taking on San Francisco.
Week 10: Rams at 49ers (Loss)
After playing Green Bay and New England in back-to-back weeks, things don't get any easier for the Rams as they travel to San Francisco.
They're coming off a bye week, so that works to their advantage, but beating the 49ers in their own house is asking a lot.
The 49ers will stuff Jeff Fisher's run-heavy style of offense and force the Rams to win through the air. If Sam Bradford is at the top of his game then they have a shot, but that's not something we can count on at this point.
The 49ers should take this game, which hands the Rams their fourth consecutive loss in this scenario.
Overall Record: 3-6
Week 11: Rams vs Jets (Loss)
The New York Jets have been a far superior team over the last several years, but even so, the Jets are still very beatable in the dome.
Their offense can be lifeless at times, and their defense is not as frightening as it was in 2010.
Having said that, the Jets are still a talented team. To make matters worse, Rex Ryan and the Jets defense are perfectly familiar with Brian Schottenheimer's offense, which gives them another advantage.
It wouldn't be surprising if the Rams were to pull off a win, but for now we'll stick with the Jets.
Overall Record: 3-7
Week 12: Rams at Cardinals (Win)
Once again, whether it's at home or on the road, the Rams have a better team than Arizona.
Luckily for the Rams, they get to play the Cardinals just as their vicious four-game stretch begins to take a toll on their confidence.
After losing four in a row, the Rams come into Arizona and win their first road game in a blowout, which not only saves their confidence, but also their season.
Overall Record: 4-7
Week 13: Rams vs 49ers (Loss)
Playing San Francisco twice in four weeks is tough for any team, especially a young team still trying to establish themselves and earn a reputation.
It would be nice to say that the Rams beat the 49ers in the dome and get revenge for their loss three weeks prior, but it's just not realistic.
The Rams will play a tough game, maybe even competitive, but the 49ers win this one.
Overall Record: 4-8
Week 14: Rams at Bills (Win)
The Rams begin to show some consistency by picking up their second-consecutive road win against the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills have a potent offense that can put points on the board, but their top weapons—Stevie Johnson and Fred Jackson—are both prone to injuries, which means at least one of them should be out of the lineup this late into the season.
If the Rams pull this one off, it will be an impressive win against a capable opponent.
Overall Record: 5-8
Week 15: Rams vs Vikings (Win)
For a team that won just two games last season, it's difficult to look at the schedule and declare any game as an easy win.
But if there is one game that fits that description, it's their Week 15 home game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Adrian Peterson needs to prove that he can still play after injuring his knee last season. Until that happens, the Vikings have zero playmakers on offense.
Their defense isn't much better. Outside of Jared Allen and Chad Greenway, the unit is seriously lacking in talent.
The Rams should come away with an easy win.
Overall Record: 6-8
Week 16: Rams at Buccaneers (Loss)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a somewhat forgotten team. They were viewed as rising stars in 2010, but became irrelevant in 2011—kind of a less extreme version of the Rams.
Josh Freeman is a terrific quarterback who is capable of playing with the best of them. They also have Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson out wide and a backfield that features LeGarrette Blount and Doug Martin.
The Bucs will be a surprise contender in the NFC South, so it will be a tough game for the Rams. It's certainly a winnable game but one that will be tougher than people think.
Overall Record: 6-9
Week 17: Rams as Seahawks (Win)
This is it. This is the game that the 2012 Rams will be remembered for, at least in this scenario.
The Rams haven't been able to defeat the Seattle Seahawks on their own turf since the 2004 season. Their inability to win in Seattle is what kept the them out of the playoffs in 2010, and it has been a source of humiliation for quite some time.
But even though the Rams fall short of the playoffs, this win is what will symbolize the end of futility and the beginning of the Jeff Fisher era.
Breaking the losing streak in Seattle lets the rest of division know that the Rams are back.
Overall Record: 7-9