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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Do not automatically write off the Rams. At the very least, consult their schedule first. And then consider that it's still only April. Much can change before the games start counting.
Every team has a chance to develop the intangible qualities that turn flawed teams into contending ones. The Rams can become relevant in the division through improved offensive line play if it helps Marc Bulger salvage his once-promising career.
From this early vantage point, however, the Rams appear headed for a difficult first season under new coach Steve Spagnuolo. Having already discussed projections for the Cardinals, 49ers and Seahawks, it's time to look at the Rams. I'll break up the season into sections and project records along the way. My initial projection calls for a 6-10 record.
It's tough to find a road victory for the Rams in the first month of the season, even though they did beat the Redskins at FedEx Field in Week 2. That victory might even work against the Rams this time, if the surprise factor helped last time. The Rams aren't going to go 0-4 for a second consecutive season, in my view, but 1-3 seems likely.
The next four games appear more favorable, but the toughest two -- against Minnesota and Indianapolis -- are at home. I think that works against the Rams. You figure teams are going to lose road games most of the time. If the Rams were playing the Vikings and Colts on the road, with the Jaguars and Lions at home, we might have an easier time projecting success. I'll tentatively and somewhat ambitiously go with 2-2 during this stretch.
The Rams' schedule appears more favorable in the four games after the bye. Having three of four games at home will help. The problem during this four-game stretch: all four opponents feature Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks. Drew Brees, Kurt Warner and Jay Cutler were Pro Bowl players last season. Matt Hasselbeck was previously a Pro Bowl choice. Let's go with 2-2 here.
The final four games feature two very likely road defeats (at Tennessee, at Arizona). Let's say, perhaps conservatively, that the Rams split the two home games. They go 1-3 in the final month in reaching 6-10, a four-game improvement from last season.
St. Louis Rams Regular Season Schedule (2009)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, at Seattle Seahawks, 4:15 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, GREEN BAY PACKERS, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at San Francisco 49ers, 4:15 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, MINNESOTA VIKINGS, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, ARIZONA CARDINALS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, HOUSTON TEXANS, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS, 1 p.m.