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It's a slate of tough dates for Rams

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  • It's a slate of tough dates for Rams

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Aug. 27 2004

    The Rams play the seventh-toughest schedule in the National Football League in
    2004, based on last season's standings.

    Seven of their 16 games are against 2003 playoff teams. Only Carolina, New
    Orleans and Tampa Bay (with eight apiece) face more.

    The Rams play both Super Bowl participants - New England and Carolina. Not to
    mention three-time NFC runner-up Philadelphia.

    They get Michael Vick in his 71,000-seat playpen - the Georgia Dome.

    They renew acquaintances with old rivals New Orleans and Tampa Bay and face a
    potential warm-weather game at Miami in late October, and potential
    cold-weather contests in late November in Buffalo and Green Bay.

    And let's not forget the division. There's the budding rivalry with the Seattle
    Seahawks, who some believe are the team to beat in the NFC West . . .
    traditional West Coast rival San Francisco . . . and of course, the team St.
    Louis loves to hate, Mr. Bidwill's Arizona Cardinals.

    Other than that, there's absolutely no challenge, intrigue, or excitement to
    the Rams' 2004 schedule. If not the most interesting and most daunting schedule
    since the move to St. Louis, it's close to it.

    Let's begin at the beginning. The Rams are 7-2 in home openers since the move
    from southern California, which doesn't bode well for the Big Red, who visit
    their old hometown Sept. 12.

    The Rams have swept all four meetings with the Cardinals since realignment put
    the teams in the same division in 2002. Under new coach Dennis Green, the Big
    Red at least had the makings of an exciting offense with underrated Marcel
    Shipp at running back, plus '03 rookie sensation Anquan Boldin and No. 3
    overall draft pick Larry Fitzgerald at wide receiver.

    But injuries to Boldin (knee) and Shipp (ankle) will sideline them far beyond
    opening day. If the Rams have any aspirations for another NFC West title - or
    even a wild-card playoff berth - they must sweep the Cardinals.

    In fact, the best recipe for postseason play would seem to be a 5-1 record in
    division play, coupled with a .500 or better mark out of the division.

    The Rams could accomplish 5-1 in the division by sweeping Arizona and San
    Francisco, and splitting with the Seahawks. The Rams haven't swept the 'Niners
    since the 2001 Super Bowl season. But with no Terrell Owens, no Jeff Garcia and
    no Garrison Hearst, the ***** appear to have no chance to make a playoff run.

    Seattle is another matter. The Seahawks are a year older, a year wiser and
    still look like a team on the rise. Both Rams-Seahawks contests were tossups a
    year ago, with the Rams losing by a point in Seattle in September, and the
    Seahawks losing by five in St. Louis three months later. Look for more of the
    same in '04. But there will be no late-season showdown this time. The teams
    meet in Week 5 (Oct. 10 at Seattle) and Week 10 (Nov. 14 at St. Louis).

    None of the Rams' four games leading up to the Oct. 10 Seattle contest are
    against teams that posted a winning record in '03. But in the NFL, last
    season's shortcomings don't always preclude this season's success, or vice

    In Week 2, for example, Atlanta figures to be a different team with the
    electrifying Vick at quarterback than the squad the Rams manhandled over the
    past five seasons. The Rams are 7-0 against the Dirty Birds in that span,
    outscoring Atlanta 264 to 88.

    After chasing Vick around the Georgia Dome, the Rams get Aaron Brooks, Joe Horn
    and the visiting New Orleans Saints in Week 3. The Edward Jones Dome has been
    one of the toughest places for visitors to win since the start of the '99

    But the Saints certainly don't quiver when they enter the building. They've won
    three of their last four contests in St. Louis, including victories against the
    Rams' '01 Super Bowl team and 2000 playoff team. Oh, what a rivalry this was
    prior to realignment. Remember this bit of choice trash-talking by "Hollywood"
    Horn before a key 2001 Rams-Saints clash?

    "The Rams know what time it is. We have their number. We're
    coming to play. . . ."

    On Sept. 26 at noon, it will be time - time for the first Rams-Saints game
    since '01. This time, if Kyle Turley throws any halftime tirades - or helmets -
    it will be in the Rams' locker room, not for the Saints. Bad back permitting,
    of course.

    All things considered, the Rams would do well to be 3-1 at the quarter pole.
    Then comes that first contest against Seattle, followed by non-division tilts
    against Tampa Bay, Miami and New England.

    No team made the Greatest Show work harder for its points than the vaunted
    Tampa Bay defense in recent years. This time, there will be no Warren Sapp and
    no John Lynch on the field Oct. 18, when the teams meet for the fourth straight
    time on Monday night. The Bucs have turned into Oakland East under general
    manager Bruce Allen and coach Jon Gruden, and appear to be in a transitional

    On Oct. 24, the Rams visit Miami for the first time since 1998. Hopefully, Marc
    Bulger won't skip the team flight home from Pro Player Stadium to be with his
    girlfriend, as predecessor Tony Banks did in '98.

    The Dolphins are especially tough at home early in the season, when the south
    Florida heat remains a factor. Over the past six seasons, they're 17-4 at home
    in September and October. But with no Ricky Williams or David Boston, the
    Dolphins must do it with defense against the Rams and everybody else.

    The Rams reach the season's midpoint Nov. 7 at home against New England, taking
    their bye week following the Miami game. The Rams are 5-0 following bye weeks
    over the past five seasons - which is tied for the best post-bye record in the
    league (with Philadelphia) over that span. New England, by the way, plays at
    Pittsburgh Oct. 31 while the Rams are resting. In what figures to be one of the
    highlight games of the season, this is the first meeting between the teams
    since the memorable Super Bowl XXXVI matchup.

    It is at this time of the year that the Rams' season will start to become

    The Seahawks come to the Edward Jones Dome the week after New England. Then,
    the Rams play four of their next five on the road, starting with a Nov. 21 trip
    to Buffalo and a Nov. 29 Monday nighter at Lambeau Field against the Packers.

    By then, we should have a pretty good idea if the 2004 Rams are pretenders,
    contenders or the team to beat in the NFC West

  • #2
    Re: It's a slate of tough dates for Rams

    Wow, I am SO looking forward to this schedule. Tough, but once it get's rolling, it should be some good stuff. I think we may get a bit of a break on the toughness of the schedule in that Tampa and Miami MAY not be quite as good as they were last year...

    C'mon Marc, show us why we gave you the big bucks and spank these teams. PATS/SAINTS/BUCS/SEAHAWKS..... Man I can't stand any of those teams!!!!


    Related Topics


    • RamDez
      Variety Show
      by RamDez
      Variety Show

      By Jim Thomas
      Of the Post-Dispatch


      Based on last season's records, the Rams have the easiest schedule in the NFL.

      The Rams face only four teams that had winning records in 2004: Philadelphia (13-3), Indianapolis (12-4), Seattle (9-7) and Jacksonville (9-7).

      They face only four teams that made the playoffs: Philly, Indy, the Seahawks and Minnesota (8-8).

      But given the current parity-driven state of the NFL, the Rams should take nothing for granted. Teams can change from the "Same Old Sorry (Bleep) Rams" into the "Greatest Show on Turf" in an instant.

      The 2005 schedule features familiar rivals New Orleans and Philadelphia. And, of course, NFC West opponents Arizona, San Francisco and Seattle. But it's really characterized more by the unfamiliar than the familiar:

      On Thanksgiving weekend, the Rams play the Houston Texans - a 2002 expansion team - for the first time.

      The day before Halloween, they play former St. Louis expansion rival Jacksonville for just the second time, and for the first time since 1996.

      In a Sunday night affair on New Year's Day, the Rams play a regular-season game in Dallas for the first time since the move to St. Louis in '95.

      The home opener on Sept. 25 marks the first visit of the Tennessee Titans to St. Louis for a regular-season contest, and the first meeting of the teams other than the preseason since Super Bowl XXXIV.

      Perhaps the marquee game of the season occurs Oct. 17 when the Rams make their first visit to Indianapolis since '95. As such, it will be running back Marshall Faulk's first game against his old club since the memorable trade that sent him to St. Louis in 1999. It's also the Rams' only Monday night appearance of this season.

      There will be some new faces to go along with the new places. The Rams get their first look at young quarterbacks David Carr of Houston, Byron Leftwich of Jacksonville, Eli Manning of the New York Giants and, quite possibly, No. 1 overall draft pick Alex Smith of San Francisco.

      At the other end of the QB spectrum, they'll face some of the top QBs in the league, including Eli's older brother Peyton, Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb and Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper.

      Obviously, no opposing quarterback will draw as much interest as the one who now calls Arizona home - Kurt Warner. A two-time NFL MVP with the Rams, Warner faces his former team twice in the NFC West. As long as Bill Bidwill owns the Big Red, playing Arizona will always be a big game for any St. Louis football fan over age 30. Putting Warner in a Cardinals uniform turns up the rivalry several notches.

      We won't have to wait long for the first meeting. It figures to be 100 degrees-plus in the Valley of the Sun on Sept.
      -08-28-2005, 03:47 AM
    • RamWraith
      Rams Regular Season Schedule Unveiled
      by RamWraith
      Wednesday, April 11, 2007

      By Nick Wagoner
      Senior Writer

      After finishing the 2006 season on a three-game winning streak, the Rams will get the opportunity to continue their momentum with a pair of home games to open the season, the NFL announced Wednesday.

      For the second year in a row, the Rams will open the regular season at home. Last year, it was with a victory against Denver. This year, the Carolina Panthers will travel to the Edward Jones Dome on Sept. 9 for a noon tilt.

      The following week, division rival San Francisco will be in town for another noon battle. St. Louis split with the ***** in 2006.

      While the Rams will make no appearances on Monday Night Football this year and no scheduled games for Sunday Night Football (though that can change because of flexible scheduling), they do have one primetime regular season appearance on the slate. On Thursday evening, Dec. 20, the Pittsburgh Steelers will come to the Edward Jones Dome for an appearance on NFL Network.

      Following the pair of home games to open the season, St. Louis hits the road for a pair of away games. The first comes on Sept. 23 with a game against the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay followed by a Sept. 30 battle against the Cowboys in Dallas.
      On Oct. 7, the Rams return home for another NFC West battle with a chance to redeem themselves against the Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams dropped a pair of games to Arizona last season.

      Perhaps the toughest stretch of games of the 2007 season comes with another pair of road games follows that tilt against the Cardinals with trips to face the vaunted Baltimore defense on Oct. 14 and to Seattle to face the division rival Seahawks on Oct. 21 at 3:15.

      The Rams will hit the halfway point of the season the next week with a home game against the Cleveland Browns at noon on Oct. 28. The following week will be the team’s bye week, with the bye placed precisely in the middle of the season.

      Coming off the bye, the Rams get back on the road for a pair of NFC games. On Nov. 11, the Rams travel to New Orleans to face last year’s feel good story of the league. The Saints went to the NFC Championship with quarterback Drew Brees in charge.

      St. Louis follows that by wrapping up the season series with the ***** on Nov. 18 at Monster Park. With a majority of the road trips out of the way, the Rams will get the benefit of finishing the season with four of their final six games at home. Those home games could be crucial for a possible playoff run after the team played two of the final three on the road last year.

      That stint starts with two home games, including the always important finale against the Seahawks on Nov. 25. After that, the Rams will renew acquaintances with former NFC West rival Atlanta and Michael Vick on Dec. 2.

      The following week, the Rams hit the road...
      -04-11-2007, 02:59 PM
    • Rambos
      Well, somebody has to win the NFC West
      by Rambos
      There is an increasingly strong possibility that the champion will have a losing record.

      Not only that, a 7-9 St. Louis or Seattle or San Francisco team could wind up hosting a first-round playoff game against a team that has won 10 or 11 games, maybe more.

      That potentially embarrassing scenario results from an NFL rule that guarantees each division champion a home playoff game.

      With five weeks to go, Seattle and St. Louis are tied for first at 5-6, with San Francisco 4-7 and Arizona 3-8.

      As Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck put it, "Yeah, it's weird."

      In games outside their division, NFC West teams are 10-20. Only St. Louis is respectable at 4-4. The division has played a big role in Kansas City's revival. The AFC West-leading Chiefs have beaten San Francisco 31-10, Arizona 31-13 and Seattle 42-24.

      The coaches of the four NFC West teams don't like to talk about the sorry state of their division. They're understandably consumed by trying to right their respective ships.

      "I don't know. It's hard for me to speculate on that," Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said on Tuesday when asked if he thought the division winner would have a losing record.

      Whisenhunt's Cardinals, winners of the NFC West the past two seasons, are mired in a six-game losing streak and were embarrassed on national television in a 27-6 home loss to San Francisco on Monday night.

      "My focus right now is really worrying about what we do. As a Cardinal answer to a non-Cardinal question, I'm really worried about what we're going to do," Whisenhunt said. "I'm not worried about that right now. We have played all the three teams in our division and to me they have all been good football teams."

      To him maybe.

      Here is a look at the "contenders" and what they face to try to finish at least at .500.

      —The Rams: St. Louis could have the best shot. After going 6-42 the past three seasons and 1-15 last year, the Rams are on the rise under second-year coach Steve Spagnuolo and rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. They play three of their last five against NFC West opponents. A sweep there and St. Louis could lose to Kansas City and New Orleans and still finish 8-8. It could come down to the regular-season finale at Seattle on Jan 2.

      —The Seahawks: Seattle has allowed 76 points in its last two games, losses at New Orleans and at home against Kansas City. On the positive side, the Seahawks have a home game against the Carolina Panthers, whose only win this season was against, of course, an NFC West foe — 23-20 over San Francisco. But the Seahawks have Atlanta at home and are at Tampa Bay. Seattle might have to sweep San Francisco and St. Louis to climb to .500.

      —The *****: San Francisco was the preseason favorite but started 0-5. The ***** have won...
      -11-30-2010, 07:03 PM
    • RamWraith
      by RamWraith
      By Jim Thomas

      Then: From 1999-2004, the Rams won 43 of 53 games at the Edward Jones Dome
      Now: Rams are winless at the dome this year and have lost 12 of their past 16

      Over a period of six seasons, from 1999 through their last playoff season — 2004 — the Rams won 43 of 53 home games.

      There was no tougher place to play in the National Football League. You could almost see defenders' knees buckle during pregame introductions as the Rams ran out to the guitar riffs of "Kashmir," the Led Zeppelin rock classic.

      They don't play that song any more at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams don't win there any more either — at least not lately. Since the middle of the 2005 season, the Rams have lost 12 of 16 home contests.

      They are winless at home this season — losing to Carolina, San Francisco, Arizona, and Cleveland. A loss Sunday against visiting Seattle would match the longest home losing streak for the Rams since the move to St. Louis in 1995. (Dick Vermeil's squad lost its last five home games of the '97 campaign.)

      No wonder the Rams have had trouble selling out the stadium lately. Of course, the Rams can begin to change all that, starting with Sunday's game against NFC West rival Seattle. A loss would eliminate the Rams from NFC West title consideration (though they would remain mathematically alive for a wild-card berth.)

      A win would extend Rams winning streak to three, no mean feat considering the team's franchise-worst 0-8 start. Just as importantly, it would be the first home victory for Rams fans since last Christmas Eve against Washington.

      "We definitely want to give that to them," linebacker Chris Draft said.

      In return, Draft is asking for a little help from the stands.

      "I asked the other day. I asked the fans for three false-start penalties," Draft said. "That means they've got to get loud. Seattle, you know, they've got their 12th Man. Last time we went there, they had Ichiro with a pink scarf on — what was it, purple? — getting the crowd up."

      Ichiro Suzuki, the Seattle Mariners' star outfielder, raised the "12th Man" flag at Qwest Field in pregame ceremonies, getting the crowd fired up for a 33-6 drubbing of the visiting Rams on Oct. 21.

      Draft doesn't want a "12th man" helping the Rams from the stands Sunday — he wants about 65,000 men, women, and children.

      "If all St. Louis gets in that stadium, it's going to be deafening," Draft said. "I want three (false) starts. It can be more than that. But I want three false starts."

      Three or so Rams touchdowns wouldn't hurt either in a game that has met NFL sellout requirements, and will be televised locally (KTVI-Channel 2).

      "Home field is...
      -11-25-2007, 07:53 AM
    • MauiRam
      NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West ..
      by MauiRam
      By staff |

      The NFC West had three teams that won at least 10 games last season, two teams in the NFC Championship Game and a team that won the Super Bowl by 35 points.

      Consequently, there is no lack of confidence about the 2014 season for the teams in this division. Three of them -- the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco ***** and Arizona Cardinals -- can make a legitimate argument for winning the division title.

      But until the ***** or the Cardinals prove otherwise, the Seahawks are the clear favorites, not only to win the division crown but to return to the Super Bowl.

      The Seahawks, however, realize the biggest obstacle to repeating as Super Bowl winners lies within their own division. The NFC West is widely regarded as the best division in the NFL. It's also the most physical division in the league, which means the division rivals tend to beat up on each other.

      Here's how Seahawks reporter Terry Blount, St. Louis Rams reporter Nick Wagoner, Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss and ***** reporter Bill Williamson see each team finishing in 2014:

      First Down
      What will the *****' record be and why?

      Terry Blount: 12-4. The ***** have a shiny new stadium, which I see them taking full advantage of and probably going unbeaten at home. Their home game against the Seahawks comes on Thanksgiving night, which likely will be a frenzied holiday crowd in front of a national TV audience. However, I don't see things going quite as smoothly on the road. I have the ***** losing at Arizona, Denver, New Orleans and Seattle. The key for San Francisco is how the team performs in a five-game midseason stretch that includes four road games -- St. Louis, Denver, New Orleans and the New York Giants. The ***** do have a bye week in that stretch, but how they get through the middle part of the schedule will determine their fate.
      Nick Wagoner: 11-5. It's awfully tempting to elevate the ***** above the Seahawks, especially after a productive offseason in which San Francisco bolstered its offense by retaining Anquan Boldin, trading for Stevie Johnson and drafting talented young playmakers Bruce Ellington and Carlos Hyde. Not to mention Michael Crabtree is healthy. It wouldn't surprise anyone to see Colin Kaepernick take a big step forward with all of those weapons at his disposal. However, it's fair to wonder if the Niners' defense can continue its dominance. They'll certainly miss NaVorro Bowman early and they have some pieces to replace in the secondary. Mostly, it's picking nits when it comes to the Niners, and I see no reason to believe this team isn't going to be a serious Super Bowl contender again.

      Josh Weinfuss: 10-6. This may be a bit on the nice side, considering the run of injuries to running backs since training camp started, but I think the *****' passing game and Colin Kaepernick's feet will make up for at least one game...
      -08-01-2014, 10:41 AM