As we are nearing the home stretch of the NFL season, the St. Louis Rams have been handed a tough four game schedule to close out the season. The Rams were in the playoff mix prior to their week 13 loss to rival San Francisco 49ers. Although they have not yet been mathematically eliminated, their chances of getting to the postseason are very slim.
This was the season the Rams needed to take advantage of and get into the hunt. The NFC North has been plagued by quarterback injuries, The NFC East has been a joke, and with Matt Ryan and his Atlanta Falcons struggling all season long, the NFC South has only a couple of contenders.
We can get into a discussion of hypotheticals, but the past is done with and the St. Louis Rams stand at a (5-7) record. They still have an opportunity to finish the season with a winning record and head into the off season with their heads held high. Of course that was the plan last year when the Rams came alive late in the season and headed into the off season with some confidence only to come out stumbling at the beginning of this season.
While the Rams still have something to play for, their next four opponents may get in their way of achieving a winning season. As a matter of fact it would be surprising if they reached the .500 mark.
The St. Louis Rams next opponent will be the Arizona Cardinals. When the season started the Rams played the Cardinals in a close game at home and pulled out a victory. Tight end Jared Cook had a coming out party and the Rams looked like they had something to say in the deep NFC West. Fast forward to today and it is the Cardinals who are making a noise and the Rams are the bottom feeders. Up until last week it looked like the Rams were turning things around could hang with the playoff contending teams, but after they were embarrassed by the 49ers, there confidence might be down. Cardinals head coach Bruce Arenas has the team playing with some confidence and has a big play threat in Larry Fitzgerald. It is going to be a long night for the Rams secondary as Fitzgerald will look to pick apart that young secondary handing the Rams their eighth loss of the season.
For their week 15 showdown, the Rams will be breaking out their LA Rams home uniforms to take on an old divisional rival, the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are a team who looks unstoppable at home, but play mediocre on the road with a (2-3) record. This game is important for the Rams because a win can keep them within reach of finishing the season with a .500 mark. The Rams biggest problem will be Drew Bree’s aerial assault. If the Rams can contain Bree’s from having a big game inside of a Dome, they have a chance to pull off an upset. Once again the Rams secondary is still too young and inexperienced to try and shut down the Bree’s attack. By the end of the game, the Rams will be on their third three game losing streak of the season.
Following each three game losing streak the Rams have responded well with back to back wins the previous two three game skids. A few weeks back in the season, the Rams had this game circled as automatic win, but since week 10 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 3-1. The Bucs are no longer looked as the worst team since rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has started to emerge as of late. The Rams will be at home as they play their final game at the Edwards Jones Dome for 2013. This could be a close game, but look for the Rams front seven to wreak havoc on the young quarterback.
There could be no tougher way to close out a season then against the likely top seed in the NFC at home. Only this team’s home crowd is famously known as the 12th man and can even create a small earthquake. The Rams will be praying for the Seattle Seahawks to try and sit most of their starters in an attempt to keep them fresh for the playoffs. Although the Rams came one play short of pulling off an upset in their week 8 showdown, the Seahawks at home is not an easy task. They have always said a team with nothing to lose is always a dangerous team. Look for Rams head coach Jeff Fisher to pull out all the tricks. If that is the case, Tavon Austin will leave us with a lasting impression after this week 17 game and some hope for next season. A lot would need to happen for the Rams to beat the Seahawks at home, but it could be an interesting game.
At the beginning of the season I had predicted the St. Louis Rams would finish the season with an (8-8) record. Although that is still in the realm of possibility, it is not going to happen. A record of (6-9) is my prediction, one less win then last season. The Rams are young team that has a lot of growing up to do. It might be while until the Rams become a perennial playoff team.