St. Louis Rams schedule analysis

Breakdown: Once again, the St. Louis Rams have what looks to be one of the most difficult schedules in the NFL. Using last year's results to come up with a strength of schedule, it technically ranks as third most difficult in the league. Using past results as a future indicator is far from a sure thing but in looking at the Rams' slate, it doesn't look like the league did them any favors. There's a chance for the Rams to get off to a hot start with three games that appear winnable before a bye week and the Rams would be well-served to take advantage. It only gets more difficult from there with a possible reprieve coming late in the season if the Rams can stay in the hunt.

Complaint department: Aside from having to finish the season in Seattle for a third consecutive year, there's one glaring complaint that might jump out to the Rams and their fans: A brutal eight-game stretch against teams with winning records in 2013 that comes after an early bye week. Smack in the middle is a three-game road swing at Kansas City, San Francisco and Arizona. It's not just that the Rams will be away from the Edward Jones Dome for so long so much as it is the caliber of opponents. Before that trio of games, the Rams travel to Philadelphia and then go home but those games are against the 49ers and Seattle. Making matters worse, when it's over the Rams return home to face AFC champion Denver then travel to San Diego.

NFC West in prime time: There's little doubt that the NFC West has emerged as the league's toughest division. For further proof, look no further than the Rams' pair of prime-time games and the amount of prime-time games the four teams in the division earned in 2014. Even the fourth-place Rams got more than just the requisite Thursday night game with a "Monday Night Football" matchup against San Francisco in Week 6 to compliment the Thursday night game against Arizona in Week 15. It's the second consecutive year the Rams are hosting a pair of prime-time games against division opponents. They'll hope to fare much better than the dreadful showing they had against the 49ers on Thursday night last year.

Strength of schedule: 3rd, .564 | Vegas over/under: 7

Rams Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, Minnesota, 1 p.m.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, at Tampa Bay, 4:05 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, Dallas, 1 p.m.

Week 4: BYE

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

Week 6: Monday, Oct. 13, San Francisco, 8:30 p.m.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, Seattle, 1 p.m.

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m.

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9, at Arizona, 4:25 p.m.

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, Denver, 1 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, at San Diego, 4:05 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, Oakland, 1 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, at Washington, 1 p.m.

Week 15: Thursday, Dec. 11, Arizona, 8:25 p.m.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, New York Giants, 4:05 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.