Instant reaction to Rams 2020 schedule

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Here are some instant reactions to the Rams schedule, announced Thursday evening, viewed through the lens of positive or negative implications for Los Angeles. On the whole, I think you'll find this to be a fair, and overall, favorable slate for 2020.

Pro: Five Prime Time Games

This is the maximum the league allows for each team at the outset. Therefore, the Rams – with SoFi Stadium as the backdrop for three of those occasions – remain a high-profile draw for the NFL and its television partners.

Con: This Doesn't Necessarily Reflect High Expectations for L.A.

Detractors can minimize those prime time assignments by attributing the cachet to the opponent.

For example, Week 1 is an ideal confluence of SoFi's unveiling, Jerry Jones, and the Dallas Cowboys (with an appetizing quarterback drama developing with Dak Prescott).

Monday Night Football at Tampa Bay in Week 11 is for Tom Brady.

What's more telling than prime time is actually the placement of the matchups with the 49ers, though.

A bitter rivalry featuring the last two NFC Champions and neither contest lands in December? It's hard not to interpret this as a prediction that the West is not expected to come down to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Assuming there's a 49ers-Seahawks matchup deep in the year, it feels like the schedule makers are buying in to those teams as the favorites in the best division in the NFL.

Pro: Thursday Night Football at Home

The best case scenario for your Thursday Night assignment is to not have to get on a plane Wednesday. However, the Rams advantage is minimized by the fact their opponent, the Patriots, will already be in Los Angeles to face the Chargers four days prior. 

Con: Thursday Night Football in December

This year's matchup with New England is late in the year, and players will tell you they prefer sooner to later when it comes to TNF.

Week 14 is rough placement, but the Rams can't complain; they've drawn Thursday Night games prior to Week 6 in each of the past three seasons.

Con: Early in the East

Not only is it a competitive disadvantage, it's also generally perceived as a slight to be playing in the early window as a West Coast team. The Rams have four such games in 2020, and they all fall in the first half of the schedule: PHI, BUF, WAS, MIA.

Fortunately, under McVay, the Rams have thrived in these situations, boasting an 8-1 record in the 1:00 p.m. ET time slot (including London games), with the only loss coming at Minnesota in 2017.

Pro: Fair Weather

At Philadelphia, followed by at Buffalo in September, takes foul weather out of the equation, almost entirely. Christmas Week in Seattle is the only cold weather forecast on the entire docket.

Con: Stay or Fly?

Will the Rams stay east between those games against the Eagles and Bills? The back-to-back comes at a less-than-ideal time, so early in the schedule.

We've seen the Rams benefit from in-season mini-camps on the road under McVay: between wins at Jacksonville and London in 2017, between wins against the Seahawks and Chiefs in 2018, and between wins against the Falcons and Bengals in 2019.

Those instances were all down the schedule, though. Having just wrapped up training camp in August, a week of practice on the East Coast might feel a bit redundant this year.

However, jetting home from Philadelphia only to turn around for an early kickoff in Buffalo the following Sunday doesn't make much sense, either.

Pro: Well-Placed Bye

All things being equal, Week 9 is where just about every team would hope to have its open date. In the case of the 2020 Rams, their 16-game schedule is evenly split in half.

Pro: Five of the Final Eight Games at SoFi Stadium

Coming off that bye, the Rams will only have to leave the Pacific Time Zone once the rest of the season: for a Monday Night contest at Tampa Bay on November 23. (Technically, Arizona will be on Mountain Time in December, but you know what I mean.)

If they can get through a first half travel gauntlet, the Rams will be well-positioned for the stretch run with a home-heavy schedule to finish.

Con: Short Week Before 49ers

What could be the most important game on the schedule: Week 12 versus San Francisco, will come on short rest for the Rams.

But it's not just a short week. It follows that Monday Night game on the other side of the country. The Rams will get back from Tampa in the early hours of Tuesday morning. 

But it gets worse. The 49ers are set up for this game with a Week 11 bye before arriving at SoFi Stadium.

Pro: The Preseason

This is the best preseason slate for the Rams since they returned to Los Angeles in 2016. Only one road trip, and in theory they could bus to Las Vegas for the preseason finale (4.5 hours from Cal Lutheran). Compare that to trips to Napa/Oakland, Honolulu, and Houston a year ago.

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