The St. Louis Rams faced a ton of adversity in 2014, which led to a somewhat disappointing 6-10 finish, but the pieces are in place for improvement in 2015.
In addition to a schedule that could be conducive to success, the Rams made some positive moves during the offseason. They beefed up their defense with the signings of defensive tackle Nick Fairley and linebacker Akeem Ayers, while acquiring a new starting quarterback in Nick Foles.
The Rams still have their work cut out for them in the competitive NFC West, but things are definitely looking up.
Here is a rundown of their entire 2015 regular-season schedule, as well as further analysis regarding the most intriguing games to watch.
|2015 St. Louis Rams Regular-Season Schedule|
|1||9/13||vs. Seattle Seahawks||1 p.m.||Fox|
|2||9/20||at Washington Redskins||1 p.m.||Fox|
|3||9/27||vs. Pittsburgh Steelers||1 p.m.||CBS|
|4||10/04||at Arizona Cardinals||4:25 p.m.||Fox|
|5||10/11||at Green Bay Packers||1 p.m.||CBS|
|7||10/25||vs. Cleveland Browns||1 p.m.||CBS|
|8||11/01||vs. San Francisco 49ers||1 p.m.||Fox|
|9||11/08||at Minnesota Vikings||1 p.m.||Fox|
|10||11/15||vs. Chicago Bears||1 p.m.||Fox|
|11||11/22||at Baltimore Ravens||1 p.m.||Fox|
|12||11/29||at Cincinnati Bengals||1 p.m.||Fox|
|13||12/06||vs. Arizona Cardinals||1 p.m.||Fox|
|14||12/13||vs. Detroit Lions||1 p.m.||Fox|
|15||12/17||vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8:25 p.m.||NFLN|
|16||12/27||at Seattle Seahawks||4:25 p.m.||Fox|
|17||1/03||at San Francisco 49ers||4:25 p.m.||Fox|
Top Matchups to Watch
St. Louis Rams vs. Detroit Lions
The Rams made an interesting move this offseason by adding to the strength of their defensive line by signing Fairley. The Auburn alum was a hot-and-cold player for the Detroit Lions, but he showed some flashes of All-Pro talent during his time with the team.
If he is able to reach his potential in St. Louis, then he could prove to be a major steal in free agency. Fairley's motivation has been questioned at times, but one can only assume that he'll compete like a player with something to prove when the Lions come into town in 2015.
Despite losing Ndamukong Suh in free agency as well, the Lions opted against bringing back Fairley. Based on comments made by general manager Martin Mayhew, Detroit didn't necessarily push hard to retain Fairley, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "I wouldn't say there was limited interest (in Fairley). Like I said, I met with (agent) Brian (Overstreet) at the combine; we talked quite a bit about his situation. I'm glad that he was able to land there and, hopefully, he can get it rolling in the right direction."
The Rams saw something they liked in Fairley, though, and they made a dangerous defense even better, provided he performs well.
As pointed out by Mike Clemens of SiriusXM NFL Radio, the Rams are a good fit for Fairley since he'll be playing alongside some great talent:
St. Louis already had three Pro Bowl-caliber defensive linemen in Robert Quinn, Chris Long and Aaron Donald, so there won't be a ton of pressure on Fairley.
The Lions may have let a really good player slip away, and it will be interesting to see if Fairley proves that to be the case.
St. Louis Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks
Although the Rams won only six games in 2014, they made them count. In addition to victories over quality teams such as the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis' most shocking triumph may have come in Week 7 against the Seattle Seahawks.
Seattle ultimately went on to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, but they were stymied by the Rams on the road in a 28-26 defeat. St. Louis pulled out all of the stops, including some trickery, in a win that proved to be the highlight of their season.
The Seahawks will likely want some revenge when they travel to St. Louis this year, but the Rams figure to be tough to beat once again. They are improved on both sides of the ball, and while they'll still have the option of some razzle-dazzle on special teams, they may not need it in order to give the Seahawks a run for their money.
In fact, Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Chris Canty expects big things from the Rams in 2015, including another win over Seattle, according to PFT on NBCSN:
There is no doubt that the Rams are a much tougher team inside their home dome, so while few will expect St. Louis to beat Seattle on the road, another home win isn't out of the question.
If the Rams can use their excellent defensive line to pressure quarterback Russell Wilson and Foles is able to manage Seattle's Legion of Boom secondary, then St. Louis could pull off another surprise during the upcoming season.
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers shocked many by missing the playoffs last season, and there is no question that their postseason hopes endured a major blow when they fell 13-10 at home to the Rams in Week 9.
Most expected the Niners to make the playoffs at that point, but it can be argued that St. Louis started their tailspin. This offseason has been a tumultuous one for San Francisco as it has lost many key players, which makes the rivalry between the Rams and the 49ers even more interesting.
Based on what St. Louis has done through free agency and trades, the NFL Network's Michael Robinson believes it has surpassed the Niners, according to NFL Media PR on Twitter:
It is possible that the 49ers could fall all the way to the basement of the NFC West in 2015. That would require some improvement from the Rams in all likelihood, and they can prove that they have gotten better by beating San Francisco on the road once again.
Competing with the Seahawks and perhaps the Arizona Cardinals near the top of the division may still be a tall order for the Rams, but there is no reason why they cannot potentially move into third.
The Niners won't go quietly considering how much success they have had in recent years, though, which means this game could be an absolute battle.
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