<
>

2017 Los Angeles Rams game-by-game predictions

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Rams' featured non-NFC West games in 2017 will be against the AFC South, the only division that didn't have a team with double-digit wins last year. Their first two games will be at home. Their last game will come against a popular pick to finish with the NFL's worst record.

In between are several winnable games, too. But the Rams, under an entirely new coaching staff, still have a lot to figure out internally. Here's an early, game-by-game look at how the 2017 season could shake out.

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, vs. Indianapolis Colts, 4:05 p.m. ET

One thing is pretty clear about the Rams' 2017 schedule: They'll face a lot of good quarterbacks. The first will be Andrew Luck. But Luck is coming off shoulder surgery, and Rams quarterback Jared Goff will be facing a shaky secondary. He should get off on the right foot here. Record: 1-0

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, vs. Washington Redskins, 4:25 p.m. ET

Former Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay left to become the Rams' head coach, and soon thereafter, Washington's top two receivers, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, signed with other teams. Now coach Jay Gruden has a transitioning offense on his hands. But it's still better than the one McVay inherited. Record: 1-1

Week 3: Thursday, Sept. 21, at San Francisco 49ers, 8:25 p.m. ET

Last year, the 49ers embarrassed the Rams in a season-opening game on Monday Night Football. The 49ers won two games in 2016, and both came against the Rams, the last one on the strength of an impressive comeback at the Coliseum. The 49ers, now under Kyle Shanahan, will continue to be bad. The Rams should be better against them. Record: 2-1

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, at Dallas Cowboys, 1 p.m. ET

This will be the Rams' toughest test all season. Their defense should be pretty good, but new defensive coordinator and former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips will have a hard time trying to contain QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten. On offense, the Rams don't have anything close to the firepower to keep up. Record: 2-2

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8, vs. Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m. ET

Hate on Jeff Fisher all you want, but for some reason, he seemed to have some weird magic touch when it came to beating the Seahawks. It's unlikely McVay will have that same feel, simply because most coaches don't. The Seahawks' defense -- perhaps rejuvenated by the return of safety Earl Thomas -- will be a big early test for McVay's developing offense. Record: 2-3

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15, at Jacksonville Jaguars, 4:05 p.m. ET

The Jaguars are no strangers to offseason spending. And this offseason was no different, as they splurged on three new defensive players: defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church. At home, they'll make life really difficult on Goff and his offense. Record: 2-4

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22, vs. Arizona Cardinals in London, 1 p.m. ET

The Cardinals have lost as much as the Jaguars gained on defense. Four of their top six defensive snap leaders from 2016 signed elsewhere. Coming off a disappointing 7-8-1 season, Arizona has holes all over its defense -- holes Goff can exploit in Twickenham Stadium, where the Rams suffered a heartbreaker to the Giants last year. Record: 3-4

Week 8: Bye

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5, at New York Giants, 1 p.m. ET

Another long flight -- though it's coming off a bye -- and another difficult matchup. The Giants feature two dynamite cornerbacks in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins. And now, with Brandon Marshall joining Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants have two standout receivers for QB Eli Manning. They should be pretty good. Record: 3-5

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12, vs. Houston Texans, 4:05 p.m. ET

The Texans won the AFC South without J.J. Watt, but they did so with a minus-49 point differential, seventh-worst in the NFL. And though Watt should be healthy again, their quarterback situation has not been resolved. The Rams will be happy to be back home. Record: 4-5

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19, at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m. ET

The Vikings -- much like the Rams -- have had to overhaul their offensive line. For a Rams defense that is led by Aaron Donald and is now overseen by Phillips, who's very creative in the ways he can pressure the quarterback out of a 3-4 base set, this is usually a good matchup. But not this time. Record: 4-6

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26, vs. New Orleans Saints, 4:05 p.m. ET

Rams fans have probably tried really hard to forget about this team. The Saints dealt the Rams perhaps their most crushing blow of 2016, annihilating them 49-21 in New Orleans. But the Saints have had a hard time putting pieces around aging QB Drew Brees in recent years, and the Rams should get some revenge. Record: 5-6

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. ET

The last time the Rams played in Arizona, they stunned the Cardinals and improved to 3-1 to start 2016. It was the apex of their season; perhaps the apex of Fisher's tenure. The Cardinals probably won't let that happen again. Record: 5-7

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 4:25 p.m. ET

This will be the most highly anticipated game of the season. Goff, the 2016 No. 1 overall pick, goes up against Carson Wentz, the 2016 No. 2 overall pick. Wentz entered the NFL with more experienced coaching than Goff, and now he has something Goff still lacks: a true No. 1 receiver in Alshon Jeffery. But maybe I just have a gut feeling about this one. Record: 6-7

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17, at Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m. ET

It's the Seahawks, at home, late in the season, when they'll probably be fighting for playoff positioning. But in Washington, McVay was a master at adjusting to exploit opponents' weaknesses, and he'll pick up a few things from the Week 5 meeting between these teams. Record: 7-7

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 24, at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. ET

The Titans are coming off only their second winning season in eight years, and franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota was very good down the stretch. They're on the rise, and they should be a playoff contender in 2017. Record: 7-8

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, vs. San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m. ET

One shot, at home, against the lowly 49ers, to capture their first non-losing season since 2006? The Rams get it done. Record: 8-8