Trying to predict an NFL season is a tricky proposition. Teams change, players get hurt and the season never quite goes how you expect. That is truly the beauty of sports and specifically the NFL. But, that doesn’t stop people from trying to be Nostradamus and figure out what their NFL team will be in 2011. Here is my attempt to look into the crystal ball and predict what will happen with the 2011 St. Louis Rams.
I will break their schedule down and give them a chance of winning percentage. Then I will total it all up and it will give us their final record for 2011.
Week 1 vs. Philadelphia: The schedule makers did not do the Rams any favors with this one. This is a tough home game against an improved opponent. With Michael Vick and his weapons it will be difficult to win, but the Rams have two things going for them. First it is a home game which gives the Rams an advantage. Second, teams aren’t always firing at 100% when the season opens up which increases the likelihood of upsets. Rams Winning Chance: 40%
Week 2 at NY Giants: The Rams then have to go to face the Giants on the road, on Monday Night, in the Giants Home Opener. The Giants are always tough at the Meadowlands and even though it is unsure how good they will be ultimately, it will be a very difficult game for the Rams to come away with a win. Rams Winning Chance: 30%
Week 3 vs. Baltimore: The Ravens are consistently good and appear to have the makings of another Super Bowl caliber team. The Ravens offense is getting better, but their defense started to slide last season. Will Ray Lewis and Ed Reed continue to play at their high level or is the drop-off around the corner? The Ravens won’t have that answer by then. Rams Winning Chance: 35%
Week 4 vs. Washington: For the first quarter of the season this is the absolute must win/must have game. The Redskins are horrible and the Rams have them at home. If the team thinks they are a playoff contender then this should be a no-brainer. Rams Winning Chance 80%
Week 5 BYE
Week 6 at Green Bay: Any time you face the defending Super Bowl champion it is a difficult game. Add in that you are on the road and it doubles the pain. The only thing the Rams have going for them is that the game comes off a bye and the Rams will get two weeks to prepare. This is a tough one to foresee the Rams winning. Rams Winning Chance: 20%
Week 7 at Dallas: If there is anyone who tells you for certain what the Dallas Cowboys are going to be this year they are crazy. There are people predicting Super Bowls and people predicting third place finishes in the NFC East. They are as volatile of a team as any in the NFL. They could be good against the Rams or could be overrated. Rams Winning Chance: 35%
Week 8 vs. New Orleans: The 2009 Super Bowl Champs come to town and their offense is going to be as good as ever. The Saints end a very difficult three week stretch and will either find a very resilient Rams team or a team that is holding on for dear life. Of all of the home games for the Rams this is the one that appears to be the most difficult to win. Rams Winning Chance: 35%
Week 9 at Arizona: There are many that see the Cardinals as the Rams biggest challenge in the NFC West. That probably says something about the NFC West. Kevin Kolb is a huge addition, but the Cardinals still have no running game. This is a road game the Rams should have a good chance at winning. Rams Winning Chance 55%
Week 10 at Cleveland: Another road game for the Rams in which they might be favored. New Head Coach Pat Shurmur certainly will know his former team which might give him some advantage, but the Browns are a team still trying to find their way. Rams Winning Chance: 50%
Week 11 vs. Seattle: If you are going to be a division champion you must sweep your division opponents at home. The Seahawks will have used at least two quarterbacks at this point. Whether it will wind up being Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst against the Rams remains to be seen. This is a must win game. Not to mention the Rams owe the Seahawks one after what happened in the final week of last season. Rams Winning Chance: 80%
Week 12 vs. Arizona: Again you have to beat your division opponents. There is no way the Cardinals can come in here and beat the Rams. Rams Winning Chance: 75%
Week 13 at San Francisco: This is a game that you worry about. The Rams always struggle at Candlestick Park, or whatever they call it these days. It didn’t matter if the Rams were winning Super Bowls or if they were going 1-15, this was a tough afternoon. Rams Winning Chance: 45%
Week 14 at Seattle: Another miserable place to play. The Rams by this point should be looking at a playoff chance and the Seahawks should be looking at where they will be picking in the Draft. Rams Winning Chance 55%
Week 15 vs. Cincinnati: If there is a worse franchise in football then you will have to prove it to me. The Bengals look to be in for a long season and by this point they should have found out if Andy Dalton is going to be the long term answer at quarterback. This is one the Rams should take easily. Rams Winning Chance: 80%
Week 16 at Pittsburgh: You would feel a lot better about the Rams chances if this game were I September and not December. Even though I think the Steelers are going to have a bad year because of the Super Bowl loser hangover, I don’t believe they will be completely out of the playoff race. The Steelers don’t generally lose these types of games at home at this time of year. Rams Winning Chance: 20%
Week 17 vs. San Francisco: There are many who don’t have a lot of faith in the 49ers, but I actually think this game could be the decider for the NFC West title. This should be a game the Rams win, but the 49ers could cause the Rams some headaches. Rams Winning Chance: 65%
So with all of that added up the numbers come out to an even 8-8 record. My heart tells me that they could go as high as 10-6, but 8-8 is probably realistic. Last season I had the Rams going 5-11 and they wound up being two games better than that. Hopefully they will be two games better than what I predict they will be this season. It all starts on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
For more info: Get updates from Rams Park here and instant updates by Twitter here. To read more of Tim’s work covering the Big XII and NFC go to Onsidekick.com.