No breaks for Rams in '14 schedule

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams are already working at a disadvantage heading into the 2014 season simply by their presence as the last-place team in the NFC West division.

That alone guarantees the Rams will play six games against teams that had 10 or more wins in 2013 in the form of Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona. After going 1-5 against that trio this year, the Rams have their work cut out for them to keep up in the division.

On the flip side, the Rams did make strides outside the NFC West in 2013, going 6-4 against non-division opponents. Repeating that feat may be a tough task given the way the rest of the Rams' schedule shapes up.

NFL scheduling procedure dictates that every team plays all four opponents from one division in each conference on a rotating basis. Next year, the Rams have the AFC West and the NFC East.

The final two opponents are the same-place finisher from the other two divisions in the conference. In this case, the Rams play the last place finishers in the NFC South and NFC North, which means a third straight year playing Tampa Bay and a game against Minnesota.

Here's the full schedule breakdown:

Home: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders.

Away: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers.

Considering that the West was the best division on the AFC side, the Rams appear to get no breaks from playing that quartet in 2014. The schedule includes eight games against 2013 playoff qualifiers and two more against a team with 10 wins in Arizona.

Of course, as is always the case, projecting a schedule from year to year is an exercise in futility. There's a good chance some of the good 2013 teams on the list will fall off in 2014 and vice-versa.