The Rams enter 2023 with the burden of expectations lifted.
The 2022 season was immensely disappointing and worsened by a myriad of injuries. Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford all missed time last year, with Stafford suffering a spinal injury battling a high ankle sprain all year.
The result? A 5-12 record, the most losses for a defending Super Bowl champion in NFL history. They're looking to rebound this year as they hope to return to full strength, and they're going to have to do so against a schedule that, while not outrageously difficult, also isn't filled with pushovers either.
Sean McVay is back in tow for the Rams, looking to reclaim his title as the best coaching mind in the NFL. This offseason was not an ostentatiously busy one -- the Rams are hoping their returning faces will be enough to bring them back. But Jalen Ramsey is out of L.A., and Cam Akers is (somehow) still on the roster. Are the Rams doomed to repeat 2022? Or will they pull out of last year's nosedive?
Here's a look at the Rams' schedule this year as they try to get back to the top of the NFC West.
Los Angeles Rams schedule 2023
|1||Sep. 10||at Seahawks||4:25 p.m.||Fox|
|2||Sep. 17||vs. 49ers||4:05 p.m.||Fox|
|3||Sep. 25||at Bengals||8:15 p.m.||ESPN|
|4||Oct. 1||at Colts||1 p.m.||Fox|
|5||Oct. 8||vs. Eagles||4:05 p.m.||Fox|
|6||Oct. 15||vs. Cardinals||4:25 p.m.||Fox|
|7||Oct. 22||vs. Steelers||4:05 p.m.||Fox|
|8||Oct. 29||at Cowboys||1 p.m.||Fox|
|9||Nov. 5||at Packers||1 p.m.||Fox|
|11||Nov. 19||vs. Seahawks||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|12||Nov. 26||at Cardinals||4:05 p.m.||Fox|
|13||Dec. 3||vs. Browns||4:25 p.m.||Fox|
|14||Dec. 10||at Ravens||1 p.m.||Fox|
|15||Dec. 17||vs. Commanders||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|16||Dec. 21||vs. Saints||8:15 p.m.||Amazon Prime Video|
|17||Dec. 31||at Giants||1 p.m.||Fox|
Rams strength of schedule
The Rams will be playing the AFC North and NFC East divisions this year, along with the third-place teams in the NFC North and NFC South and the Colts from the AFC South. That means the Packers and Saints are the adds for them this season, as Green Bay begins its post-Aaron Rodgers life and the Saints usher in the Derek Carr era. The Colts, meanwhile, are entering the age of Anthony Richardson, whom they drafted fourth overall this offseason.
Even with those lower-placed teams, the AFC North and NFC East have them at the 17th-toughest schedule in the league, per Sharp Football.
Toughest tests: The toughest tests for the Rams include some very difficult road games in Baltimore, Cincinnati, New York, and Green Bay. Temperature can often be a factor on those fields, and they're going to have to deal with some outstanding teams in those stadiums. The Packers and Giants may still be relatively unknown entities -- the Packers especially -- but the Ravens and Bengals have serious ambitions this year.
Then there's the Rams playing in a division with two playoff teams from last season, the 49ers and Seahawks. The Rams need to prove themselves within the West to return to the top of the NFC, let alone the NFL.
Biggest breaks: By finishing in third, the Rams did help themselves out -- to a degree. The Saints are in a spot of transition and the Colts are too, meaning they may be able to make some waves in those games. However, it's ultimately going to come down to health.
Bottom line: As previously stated: The Rams need to stay healthy. The harsh reality around Matthew Stafford is that he is 35 years old, and that isn't an untouched 35 either. He's taken some licks along the road. Meanwhile, Kupp is playing a position where injuries beget injuries all the time, so the Rams are placing a lot on him returning to form.
The Rams are not a fundamentally bad team. They probably aren't a 5-12 team. But this season didn't exactly smile upon them in terms of schedule. If they're still a contender, they have to prove it.
Record prediction: 7-10