The 2018 Los Angeles Rams regular season schedule is unveiled. Here are my 10 takeaways…
1) Five prime time games -- with the opportunity to flex into the NFL maximum, six -- is a testament to how challenging the Rams schedule will be, and how highly regarded the defending NFC West champions are around the league.
2) The two home prime time games at the Coliseum are among the most anticipated on the entire NFL schedule. Hosting Minnesota and Kirk Cousins, who credits Sean McVay with his career, to open the Fox Thursday Night package is a tremendous honor in Week Four. Nice competitive perk that the Vikings have to travel two time zones on a short week. Then, welcoming the Eagles in the "NFC Game of the Year" on Sunday Night Football, a game we hope will have home field advantage implications for the playoffs.
3) Thursday Night Football is always tough, but the Rams win in two ways this season: They're at home, and it's very early in the season. Cannot ask for more from TNF.
4) The Black Hole will be revved up for Monday Night Football and Jon Gruden's return. The Oakland-Alameda Coliseum in Week One will be as electrifying as any road environment on the schedule. What will the Raiders offense look like? There won't be any (recent) film. However, there aren't many NFL minds McVay knows better than Gruden and offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
5) The Rams need to capitalize on a home-friendly start to the schedule. They don't leave the state of CA in the first four weeks, including three straight home games.
6) Similarly, they won't go farther east than Denver until a Week Nine trip to New Orleans. Starting with that trip, the Rams then play five of their final eight away from Los Angeles.
7) For the first time since 2009, the Rams will play in Seattle before the month of December. That's a welcome change.
8) About the only thing to balk at would be two separate stretches in which the Rams play three straight games away from LA. However, the first span is relatively mild: at Seattle, at Denver, at San Francisco. And the second stint away from home includes a very strategically-placed bye: Mexico City, BYE, at Detroit, at Chicago.
9) Speaking of Mexico City, the NFL did right by the Rams: They are home the week prior and on a bye the week after. That's the best possible scenario for the International Series.
10) I know many fans wanted a Thanksgiving game against the Lions. However, we will be happy to be home for the holidays: Thanksgiving on a bye week, Christmas leading into the finale against the 49ers, and hopefully spending the first week of the New Year scouting Wild Card games.