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  1. #1
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Rams finish toughest part of schedule

    By Jim Thomas

    When the NFL schedule was released last April, and the Rams saw what was before them in the first seven games of 2008, most observers figured a 2-5 start was about the most one could hope for.

    Unfortunately for the Rams, the schedule hasn't disappointed. In fact, seven games into the season, the Rams have faced the toughest schedule in the NFC and the second-toughest schedule in the entire NFL.

    The Rams' seven opponents have a combined record of 33-18. Only winless Cincinnati, whose opponents are 33-16, has faced a tougher opening slate.

    The Rams already have played the entire NFC East, easily the toughest division in football. Every NFC East team has a winning record, and the division's composite record against outside competition is a stellar 17-5.

    The Rams have also played the defending AFC champion New England Patriots, who are 5-2 and tied for their division lead despite the loss of superstar quarterback Tom Brady. Seattle (2-5) isn't nearly as good as expected, but Buffalo (5-2) has been better than expected.

    So now, with the brutal seven-game stretch behind them, the Rams are indeed sitting at 2-5. It's a different kind of 2-5 than was envisioned. A horrendous 0-4 start cost Scott Linehan his job. That stretch was followed by upset victories against Washington and Dallas, and a down-to-the-wire loss to New England.

    But it's still 2-5. Now, in the remaining nine games of the season, the schedule eases up. But not as much as was anticipated last April. The Rams' nine remaining opponents are a combined 29-35. But Miami (3-4), Atlanta (4-3) and the New York Jets (4-3) are better than expected so far.

    Arizona (4-3), which comes to town Sunday for a noon kickoff at the Edward Jones Dome, looks like the best team in the NFC West at this point in the season. Five of the Rams' remaining nine games are against NFC West foes, so they have an opportunity to salvage something out of this season, and maybe just maybe play themselves back into the division race.

    But since the start of the 2005 season, the Rams are 4-15 against the NFC West and haven't beaten the Cardinals in St. Louis since 2004.

    "I'd like to win them all," coach Jim Haslett said. "Everybody tries to diagnose the schedule."

    But Haslett says he tries not to look too far ahead, preferring to split the 16-game schedule into four four-game segments.

    "Because you don't know ... when they're going to get hot and when they're not going to be hot," Haslett said. "Who's healthy; who's not healthy. I think that all plays into it."

    And make no mistake, Haslett knows the Rams will have their hands full against the Big Red.

    "The team we're playing this week is a good football team," he said. "They've got a lot of wins, they're playing well. They're racking up yardage and points on offense. They've got a lot of talent on defense and have got a big-time kicker. So we've got our work cut out for us."

    Led by a revived Kurt Warner at quarterback, the Cardinals rank fifth in the NFL in total offense, fourth in points scored, and second in passing offense. Warner is third in the NFL in passer rating (102.1).

    "The good thing?" Haslett said. "It's a division game. It's at home. Obviously, we are going to need our crowd, if we can take advantage of that, because (the Cardinals) have had some struggles on the road."

    Since he replaced Linehan, Haslett has emphasized to his players the importance of learning to deal with adversity during games, of displaying resiliency when something bad happens. He also said the team, at some point, would have to show how it responds to a loss. That situation is now at hand after Sunday's hard-fought 23-16 defeat at New England.

    "You guys were in the locker room," Haslett told reporters Monday. "They were disappointed. They felt that we could go up and win this game. We didn't do it, and now there'll be another challenge ahead.

    "So come back Wednesday, get your head on straight, get ready to go to work, and let's load up and see what happens again. We're not going to win 'em all. We know that. Not too many do in this league. New England did last year (in the regular season), that's why they're such a good football team. But we're not there yet."

    Defeating the Big Red on Sunday would put the Rams one game out of the division lead with half a season still to play. But Haslett isn't thinking in those terms.

    "I just like the opportunity," he said. "I'm glad we're having the opportunity to play some of the teams in our division. I think the next five or six weeks will tell us where we're going to be."

    Softening schedule

    The Rams went 2-5 in their first seven games while facing teams with a combined record of 15 games over .500. In the final nine games, the team will face teams with a combined record of seven games under .500. A look at the remaining schedule.

    Team W L

    Arizona 4 3

    @NY Jets 4 3

    @San Francisco 2 6

    Chicago 4 3

    Miami 3 4

    @Arizona 4 3

    Seattle 2 5

    San Francisco 2 6

    @Atlanta 4 3
    Last edited by eldfan; -10-28-2008 at 07:13 PM.


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Rams finish toughest part of schedule

    It's time to start a long winning streak!

  3. #3
    shower beers's Avatar
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    Re: Rams finish toughest part of schedule

    We need to take down Arizona this week!!!

  4. #4
    renrawtruk is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams finish toughest part of schedule

    From the beginning of the season, it looked like we would be, at best, 4-4 at the half way point. Initially I made a comment that we could, in theory, go 3-5 if we beat Seattle and could still possibly be in the division race. As it turns out, it is Arizona that is the must win in the 3-5 scenario.

    Still, with a win this week vs. AZ the most realistic scenario for this team to win the division would be to win 2 out 3 games for the rest of the year, including AZ again and tie them for the division at 8-8, with us getting the tie-breaker, head to head.


    Arizona 4 3 W

    @NY Jets 4 3 L

    @San Francisco 2 6 W

    Chicago 4 3 L

    Miami 3 4 W

    @Arizona 4 3 W

    Seattle 2 5 W

    San Francisco 2 6 W

    @Atlanta 4 3 L

    Any combination works, as long as we beat AZ both times....

    And yes, we need to first worry about winning this week, but since we're not "technically" out of the playoffs after starting 0-4, it is fun to speculate.

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