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    Gordon: Big Stages, Big Challenges For Rams

    Big stages, big challenges for Rams

    5 hours ago • BY JEFF GORDON

    Are the Rams finally ready for prime time? The NFL must believe so.

    Their 2013 schedule gives them a Thursday night home game against the San Francisco ***** (NFL Network) and a Monday Night showdown with the Seattle Seahawks (ESPN) at the Edward Jones Dome.

    That is a healthy show of respect from the league. The Rams haven’t hosted “Monday Night Football” since 2006.

    This schedule doesn’t take the Rams to London, which is a good thing. Also, there are no three-game road trips this season. That is the good news too.

    The bad news: The Rams must do some heavy lifting early in their 2013 slate.

    After a soft launch against the retooling Arizona Cardinals at home, they must travel to Atlanta and Dallas in Weeks 2 and 3. Then the defending NFC champion ***** will visit The Ed.

    For better or worse, it won’t take long to find out just how good this team really is.

    Here some other thoughts on the 2013 schedule:

    • The NFC West went from laughingstock to powerhouse in one season. As a result of that success, the Rams ended up with the league’s fourth-toughest schedule overall, based on their opponent’s won-loss record last season. They also have the toughest road schedule in the entire NFL.

    • Their opponents went 137-117-2 last season for a .539 overall winning percentage. (Yes, the Rams went 4-1-1 in this tough division last season. No, they aren’t likely to repeat that success.)

    • Opening against Arizona at home should help the Rams settle in. Quarterback Sam Bradford lost his favorite targets from the past few seasons, Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, so the passing game will have some growing to do. The same goes for the running game, which must soldier on without Steven Jackson.

    • Speaking of Jackson, we’re pretty sure he will be, um, jacked up for that Week 2 reunion against his old team. This assumes he won’t strain a groin muscle or hamstring muscle between now and then.

    • The Thursday night game, on the heels of road games against the Falcons and Cowboys, will provide a severe test. The Rams will have little time to prepare for San Francisco after facing tough back-to-back challenges.

    • Week 5 brings Shahid Khan and his Jacksonville Jaguars to town. You will recall that Khan tried to buy the Rams before Stan Kroenke intervened. We’re guessing Khan will remember this.

    • Rams coach Jeff Fisher hopes former Mizzou quarterback Blaine Gabbert will be at the helm of the Jags for that game, although he would never say that in public.

    • The “MNF” game against the Seahawks comes after the Rams play at Houston and Carolina. At least they will get an extra day to get ready for Russell Wilson and his improv offense.

    • Fisher gets to face his old team, the Titans, on his home field in Week 9. Former Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will probably choose his words carefully while urging his troops to menace Bradford. Who knows, somebody might be taping his remarks.

    • After Sam faces that test, he gets to travel to Indianapolis and play Andrew Luck’s Colts. The Bradford haters will watch this game with intense interest. What if Sam throws three interceptions and Luck lights up the Rams? The Internet might explode.

    • The bye week comes late, in Week 11. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the team’s injury pattern. If the Rams can get that far into the season in reasonable shape, then they will get significant rest for the stretch run.

    • The Rams hope to come out of that break refreshed and ready to face Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. This will give Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Williams Hayes and Co. a chance to pad their sack totals on their home field.

    • Weeks 13 and 14 take the Rams back on the road, to face Arizona and San Francisco. Then the Rams return home for a Week 15 reunion with their would-be defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan, and the Saints. This will give Fisher and Ryan an excellent chance to reminisce about the several hours they worked together earlier this season.

    • Tampa Bay comes to down in Week 16, then the Rams head back out to the Pacific Northwest to finish the regular season against the Seahawks again. Maybe this will become a tradition – something Seattle fans would welcome, based on what happened last season.

    All in all, the Rams and their largely unproven running backs and receivers will need to mature in a hurry to reach the high side of .500 against these opponents.

  2. #2
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    Re: Gordon: Big Stages, Big Challenges For Rams

    Its all about TV ratings...the best Rams games last season where against division rivals. Having lost to the Jets and Miami (Teams the Rams should have crushed), didn't garner any serious respect from around the league, sad but true. However, the NFC West battles where epic! And hense, why the Primetime schedual for the Rams--against divisional opponents.

    This season the Rams not only needs to having a winning divisional record, but also destroy their non-division opponents like Dallas and Atlanta. Now if the Rams come out of the shoot 3-0, the Rams whill have garnered league wide repect and maybe even fear. I wager right now, Atlanta isn't too worried about the Rams and Dallas is only "concerned".

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