St. Louis Rams 2013 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

Tyson Langland@TysonNFLNFC West Lead WriterApril 19, 2013

St. Louis Rams 2013 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

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    The much-anticipated 2013 regular-season schedule was just released a few hours ago for the St. Louis Rams and the 31 other NFL organizations.

    Even though the Rams' regular-season opponents have been known since January, the dates, times and network coverages were released Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.

    Here is a complete look at the 2013 schedule, with game-by-game predictions, information and analysis.

Week 1: Cardinals vs. Rams

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

    Last year the Arizona Cardinals stormed their way into the Edward Jones Dome with an undefeated record of 4-0. However, by game's end, Jeff Fisher's new-look Rams had made them feel like the cellar dwellers they eventually became. 

    For St. Louis, it was a coming-out party on defense, where it notched eight quarterback sacks on the hapless Kevin Kolb. With Kolb heading to Buffalo, the Rams will have a new challenge. They will be trying to replicate their past success against Carson Palmer and Arizona's improved offensive line. 

    With key additions and depth along the defensive line, there's no question St. Louis will use this same methodology to force turnovers and bring home a win. Expect a tight game in which the Rams will need Greg Zuerlein to seal the deal. 

    Prediction: Rams 21, Cardinals 20 

Week 2: Rams vs. Falcons

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

    For most Rams fans, this Week 2 game against the Falcons will hit home. Seeing Steven Jackson wearing Atlanta's black and red will take some getting used to. But as soon as the game clock starts to wind down, it will be all business as usual for Jeff Fisher's defense. 

    They won't have time to be sentimental, they will be too busy as they try to keep track of Jackson, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez.Sure, the Rams secondary is talented, but it isn't in the Falcons' league yet—which ultimately spells trouble for Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson.

    En route to a big day through the air, Matt Ryan and Atlanta's offense cruise to victory. 

    Prediction: Falcons 31, Rams 21 

Week 3: Rams vs. Cowboys

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

    Over the course of the past couple of seasons, the Rams have run into trouble against Dallas. Tony Romo has had his fair share of big days through the air, and the Rams pass-rush has been less than impressive against the Cowboys' below-average offensive line. 

    However, this year is the year where they finally break through against Dallas. A heavy rotational mix of running backs coupled with a strong play-action game will do the trick. It would also be wise to expect Chris Long and Robert Quinn to have big days off the edge. 

    Even though there are very few Week 3 must-wins, this is one of them. 

    Prediction: Rams 28, Cowboys 26 

Week 4: 49ers vs. Rams

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network 

    In 2012, there was no team that played the San Francisco 49ers as well as the St. Louis Rams did. Jeff Fisher's defense seemed to know exactly what to do against Colin Kaepernick when the rest of the league didn't have a clue. 

    In both contests the Rams took the 49ers to overtime. Yet, only the game played in St. Louis resulted in a victory. The other resulted in a tie at Candlestick. Surely, Sam Bradford and Co. will be looking to notch victories in both contests in 2013. 

    Without a surefire run game, Bradford will have to rely on his arm and the newly acquired Jared Cook to get the job done. Despite having immense talent in the secondary, Cook will prove to be too much of a threat, ultimately sinking the 49ers in the end.

    Prediction: Rams 17, 49ers 12

Week 5: Jaguars vs. Rams

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    Questions at quarterback remain for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Will Blaine Gabbert be at the helm for the third season in a row, or will Geno Smith be leading the charge? This is the biggest question mark surrounding the Jacksonville Jaguars right now. 

    Even though the Rams have shown improvement in one year's time, they are still prone to playing down to lesser competition. It happened last season against the Jets, Lions and Dolphins. New York and Miami had no business controlling those two games the way they did. 

    So, it will be up to St. Louis to take control of the Jaguars early on. Playing from behind in the NFL isn't easy to overcome. Expect Sam Bradford to go to the air for a few quick strikes, as Jacksonville's secondary is weaker than it has been in a while. 

    Rams win big at home.

    Prediction: Rams 30, Jaguars 9

Week 6: Rams vs. Texans

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

    Heading into Week 6, the Rams are sitting pretty. They are 4-1 with two wins behind them. Unfortunately, their three-game winning streak disappeared in the blink of an eye. Yet the Rams shouldn't feel bad—Houston was one of the best teams in the league last year and have a well-balanced offense. 

    Speaking of the Texans' well-balanced offense, Arian Foster proved to be too much to handle for the Rams run defense. Houston fed him early and often, which eventually led to a multiple touchdown game for Foster. 

    A disappointing performance in all, but the Rams travel to Carolina next week and play a winnable contest against the Panthers on the road. 

    Prediction: Texans 30, Rams 21  

Week 7: Rams vs. Panthers

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

    Through just seven games, St. Louis has already embarked on two multiple-game road trips. This will surely test the overall grit and toughness of the team. But if they can make it through and split the road series, they are on the right track. 

    Lo and behold, by game's end they proved they were on the right track. St. Louis provided a nice pocket all game long for quarterback Sam Bradford, ultimately helping him exploit the Panthers' weak play on the back end. 

    Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson fed off of the aerial display. Draws and delays proved to be there for the taking. Even though it wasn't a blowout, the Rams charged ahead thanks to strong special teams play.

    Prediction: Rams 25, Panthers 23

Week 8: Seahawks vs. Rams

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 8:40 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Much like Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers, there were very few teams who had the smarts to shut down Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. When Wilson came to the Edward Jones Dome in Week 4, he arguably turned in his worst performance of the season.

    He turned the ball over three times and netted a mere 160 yards passing. Sure, that was early on in his rookie season, but St. Louis is confident it can do similar damage this time around as well. Its secondary has what it takes to match up with Percy Harvin and the rest of the Seahawks receiving corps.

    The key will be the same as it was last year: get pressure on Wilson and force him outside the pocket. When he has the ability to sit in the pocket and find passing lanes, it makes for an incredibly long day for the opposition.

    Chris Long exposing Breno Giacomini will be the difference-maker. The Rams pickup a win at home against the class of the NFC West.

    Prediction: Rams 23, Seahawks 20 

Week 9: Titans vs. Rams

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans seemingly has a knack for enjoying big games against the St. Louis Rams. In 2009, Johnson piled up 117 yards on the ground, caught three passes for 69 yards and scored three touchdowns on 31 touches. 

    With an upgraded offensive line and a new addition at tight end, No. 28 will be looking to make his presence felt yet again. However, former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher may have a thing or two to say about limiting Johnson's success.

    If anyone can shut down the 2,000-yard rusher, Fisher can. From a talent standpoint, these two teams are matched quite evenly, but the edge in coaching goes to the Rams. It would be a wise to expect a close game that is ultimately decided in the final minutes of play. 

    Jared Cook will be the X-factor against his former team.

    Prediction: Rams 21, Titans 14

Week 10: Rams vs. Colts

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

    The Rams got a firsthand taste of Andrew Luck in the preseason last year, so they figured they would come into this week's game against Luck with a good sense of preparation. St. Louis wasn't wrong about being prepared, it just didn't matter.

    Luck made every throw in the book, while playing error-free football. Despite having control of the game, he also got a little help from running backs Donald Brown and Vick Ballard. Overall, the Rams were doomed because they couldn't get off the field on third down.

    A team won't win many games if Luck is given the opportunity to extend drives. St. Louis found that out the hard way as the Colts never looked back.

    Prediction: Colts 36, Rams 27 

Week 11: Bye Week

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    Heading into their bye week, the Rams currently sit at 7-3.

Week 12: Bears vs. Rams

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

    The Rams just can't seem to get over the hump when it comes to the Chicago Bears. In three consecutive meetings, the Rams have experienced three consecutive losses. With Chicago experiencing turnover inside its front office, St. Louis will be looking to capitalize. 

    However, capitalizing on a 10-win team from a season ago won't be easy. The Bears still have Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte on the offensive side of the ball. So the Rams will need to keep the game tight and expose Marc Trestman's aging defense. 

    The best way Brian Schottenheimer can exploit Chicago is through the air. Jared Cook will need to win matchups over the middle, and the Rams offensive line will need to do its part against the Bears' smothering pass rush.

    Turnovers down St. Louis, and the Bears pick up yet another win against the Rams.

    Prediction: Bears 27, Rams 17

Week 13: Rams vs. 49ers

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox

    Taking down the 49ers at home is an accomplishment in itself, but taking them down in front of their home crowd doesn't seem likely. Last year, St. Louis proved that it is making strides in terms of winning away from the Ed; yet, it still has a long way to go until it is considered a "good" road team.

    Even though they shut down Colin Kaepernick twice last year, offensive coordinator Greg Roman will surely develop a myriad of looks that will be new and fresh for this year's game. The Rams know that, so they will do their best to be prepared for anything San Francisco throws their way. 

    Look for Frank Gore and LaMichael James to lead the way as the 49ers light up the scoreboard en route to stealing one game of a two-game set.

    Prediction: 49ers 30, Rams 21

Week 14: Rams vs. Cardinals

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

    Despite allowing two rushing touchdowns on the ground to Beanie Wells, the Rams had little trouble controlling their last visit to the desert. Steven Jackson led the charge on the ground, and Chris Givens picked up the slack through the air. 

    Look for that same balanced act to put up points this time around. The only difference this time will be Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson running wild instead of Jackson. Even though Arizona will be looking to upgrade its secondary in the draft, it still has a long way to go. 

    Which is precisely why anyone not being covered by Patrick Peterson has the opportunity to be a difference-maker. In this instance, Brian Quick comes to mind as an X-factor, as very few defenders in the Cardinals secondary have the physical prowess to take him on. 

    Prediction: Rams 28, Cardinals 23

Week 15: Saints vs. Rams

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

    In past years, the St. Louis Rams have had a fair amount of success against the New Orleans Saints. The last time these two teams played, A.J. Feeley was taking snaps under center, and the Saints were well on their way to another playoff appearance. 

    Since the 2011 season, the roles have undoubtedly been reversed. The Rams now seem to be the more complete team on offense and defense, while New Orleans is looking to regain its footing in the always-tough NFC South. 

    Despite having up-and-coming talent in their secondary, the Rams may end up being overmatched because of Drew Brees and Sean Payton's aerial attack. St. Louis will need all hands on deck in the pass-rushing department if it wants to secure another home victory. 

    Saints win in a shootout. 

    Prediction: Saints 38, Rams 31

Week 16: Buccaneers vs. Rams

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, Fox

    Janoris Jenkins quite possibly had the best performance of his rookie season against the Buccaneers last year. He picked off one of Josh Freeman's passes and returned it to the house for six. Not to mention he recorded six solo tackles and knocked one pass away. 

    St. Louis will need this same type of performance from Jenkins if it plans on shutting down Vincent Jackson and Freeman for the second consecutive season. However, the true test will be against running back Doug Martin. 

    The Rams run defense is far from perfect, and Martin will surely remember that he turned in a lowly 62 yards on 18 carries last season. On the road in a hostile environment, the Bucs will lean heavily on their second-year back. 

    Michael Brockers and the rest of the defensive line control the line of scrimmage, propelling the Rams to a win at the Ed.

    Prediction: Rams 24, Buccaneers 16

Week 17: Rams vs. Seahawks

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

    Winning at CenturyLink Field is no easy task. Just ask the St. Louis Rams. Their last five trips to the Pacific Northwest have all resulted in losses. The last time they had a legitimate shot was in 2008 when they pulled within three points. 

    Yet optimism at Rams Park has the organization convinced it can finally pull off the seemingly impossible. Successful outings against other teams away from home and the ability to keep pace with the best the NFC has to offer hope.

    Unfortunately, 2013 won't be the year they end their funk in Seattle. Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin will prove to be too much as the Seahawks gun for another undefeated season at home. 

    Prediction: Seahawks 19, Rams 10

Final Predictions

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    Final Record: 9-7

    It was a long time coming, but it finally happened; the St. Louis Rams turned in a winning record. Depending on how the rest of the teams shake out over the course of the season, 9-7 may be good enough for a playoff berth. 

    St. Louis really stepped outside the box and won a few games it had no business winning, but that's what emerging teams do—they pull off the unexpected. They needed those types of games because there's no better way to boost a team's confidence than winning. 

    Jeff Fisher and Les Snead truly have this organization headed in the right direction.