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Rams' 2024 Schedule: Instant Reaction

It's my favorite day of the offseason, and we're coming in hot.

At long last, the schedule is real – and it's amazing. I'm absolutely thrilled with it and hope you are, too.


Let's check the basics, and we'll start by ripping the Band-Aid.

The bye lands in Week 6, and that's brutally early. Earliest since returning to Los Angeles, in fact. 2015 was the last time the Rams had an open date this high on the slate.

Thursday Night Football lands in Week 8 at home against the Minnesota Vikings. That's not bad… Except for the fact that there's a second TNF, this time at San Francisco in Week 15.

There's nothing good about having to double up. It's easily the worst part of the hand the 2024 Rams have been dealt. But if we're looking for silver linings, at least the first Thursday is versus a team from the central time zone, potentially with a rookie starting quarterback. And the second is a short flight up to the Bay Area for the rematch with the 49ers, perhaps streamlining the short week of preparation?

Also, if you're somehow intact after that Week 15 trip to Santa Clara, and especially if you come away victorious on Thursday, December 12, then you're teed up for a closing kick with a de facto "mini-bye" leading into the three-game finish at New York and home to Arizona, Seattle.

On to objectively better news.

There's only one true road back-to-back and it's right out of the gates, at Detroit and at Arizona in the first two weeks. Technically, the Rams also play back-to-back road games in December, but those are separated by 10 days (at Santa Clara on a Thursday, followed by a flight to New Jersey the following week).

The best home schedule I've been a part of opens against the rival San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. Wouldn't want it any other way.

And that brings us to long homestands. For numerous reasons, it's best to avoid three consecutive home games, if possible. And the Rams have essentially done that in 2024 – a definite boon for a nine-game home schedule.

While the Rams won't get on a plane in October, the bye week breaks up their month-long SoFi Stadium residency.

As it turns out, the Rams only leave the state twice in the final seven weeks of the season. Four of their final five games are in California, including the big finish – hosting Arizona and Seattle to close out the regular season.

Here's what the Between the Horns gang had to say…

Follow the Formula

As we've done in the past, let's get a quick refresher on the league's scheduling formula.

The home or away nature of assignments is all predetermined on a rotating basis, such that every NFC team hosts and travels to all the other NFC opponents at least once every four years, and likewise for every AFC opponent at least once every eight seasons.

Thus, we've known the Rams opponents since early January; we just didn't know the dates, times, or television assignments until now.

The Rams always play their NFC West rivals, home and away – those are the core six games.

They'll also take on the entirety of two daunting divisions in 2024: the NFC North and AFC East – there are another eight games.

The Rams are matched with like-place finishers in the remaining NFC divisions, in this case the 2023 runners-up from the South (New Orleans… yes, for the umpteenth year in a row) and East (Philadelphia) – those games bring us to 16.

And lastly, when the schedule escalated to 17 games, the NFL also instituted a like-place-finisher inter-conference battle. The Rams' 17th game in 2024 is a home date with Las Vegas, after the Raiders finished second in the AFC West last year.

Sainthood, Confirmed

As an aside, the Rams will face the Saints for the eighth time in the past nine years when they head to the Superdome on the first day of December.

Guess what? They host the Saints again next year, too.

Nonetheless, sign me up for a bonus trip to the Big Easy in February, if necessary.

Feast or Famine?

The longest Thanksgiving drought in the NFL continues, as the Rams head to Detroit to open the season on Sunday Night Football rather than on November 28, as some had hoped.

In fact, the Rams dodge all holiday games this year – no Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Black Friday. (You'll never hear the radio guy complain.)

Respect on their name?

Prime time assignments this year: five, most since 2020.

That's more like it after just two last regular season – one Monday, one Thursday.

Also in 2023, the Rams were placed in five early-window regional kickoffs. This time around, they're on track to play at 10 a.m. on only three occasions – Week 4 at Chicago, Week 11 at New England, and Week 16 at New York (flex potential here!).

Green Bay in LA

The Rams have traveled to Green Bay four straight seasons, losing each time.

It is worth noting that Matthew Stafford has only played in one of those games, however.

The playoff trip following the 2020 season was Jared Goff's last game as a Ram before the trade. Stafford's trip in 2021 was the final gut-punch of a winless November (that became undefeated December and eventually a Super Bowl). The last two years, the Rams have been quarterbacked by Baker Mayfield and Brett Rypien at Lambeau.

So, yes, it will be a welcome change to host the Cheeseheads, especially if Stafford is starting in Week 5.

Strength in Numbers

I think Warren Sharp’s methodology makes the most sense, especially this time of year, when it comes to weighing strength of schedule.

Before the sequencing of the schedule was made known, he had the Rams essentially right at league average. Of particular interest, he has the NFC West teams ranked consecutively, 15th through 18th.

So that's a nice data point and some peace of mind that the playing field is roughly level within the division.

Watch Out For the West

Here's what the market may be mispricing, though: Everyone's going in on the North being the best NFC division. I see the West as better. (And we'll find out in 2024 with 16 head-to-head games.)

The 49ers had won 12 straight NFC West games until the Rams beat them in Santa Clara last January. And the Niners are still the Niners. However, I think the division is rising to the challenge to dethrone them.

Seattle's roster is in a great place, and the Seahawks feel like they won the coaching cycle.

And I truly believe the Cardinals are ready to make the leap. They've stacked multiple high-value drafts. Their staff had them playing appreciably better in 2023. By the end of last season, their running game was electric. And I've been banging this drum for years now – Aaron Donald was Kyler Murray's kryptonite. Without him on the field, Murray's flashed MVP potential. So beware in Week 2 (and beyond).

I'd love to be completely wrong about this. But going 5-1 against the NFC West, like the Rams did a year ago, may not be realistic.

Which is fine. 6-0 is the goal, anyway.

First Timer?

The Rams are scheduled to face five of the first 10 picks from the 2024 Draft, including the three quarterbacks.

Caleb Williams will be starting Day One in Chicago, and presumably in Week 4 when the Rams visit.

We'll see about Drake Maye in New England, but you would assume by November he'll be at the controls for the Patriots.

Getting J.J. McCarthy and the Vikings at SoFi Stadium in October (on a short week) could be a favorable draw for the Rams defense.

Some other first-round storylines I'm looking forward to…

The first receiver off the board is going to be a twice-a-year chore – Marvin Harrison, Jr. changes the math against Arizona.

You'll notice the retooled Rams secondary runs the gauntlet right out of the chute – Lions, Cardinals, 49ers, Bears, Packers. We'll have a grasp of what rush and cover life after Aaron Donald (and under new defensive coordinator Chris Shula) looks like right away.

Brock Bowers was clearly coveted by many, but wound up in Las Vegas at 13 overall. The first tight end selected will bring the Silver and Black to Inglewood in Week 7.

The Rams were in the market for defensive tackles, and the first went to Seattle, Byron Murphy II. Both matchups with him and the Seahawks land in the back-half of the schedule.

The Vikings also traded up to get Alabama's Dallas Turner at 17, two picks in front of the Rams, who took their edge rusher in Jared Verse.

Los Angeles preferred Verse to Chop Robinson, another outside backer, who comes to town for Monday Night Football in Week 10 with Jalen Ramsey, Odell Beckham, Jr. and the Dolphins.

And then one bonus theme, from early in Round Two: The Eagles thought the Rams were jumping them for Cooper DeJean. Instead, they paid a king's ransom to get Braden Fiske at 39 and Philadelphia was able to take their defensive back at 40. That might be mentioned on Sunday Night Football in Week 12.

Balancing Act

Finally, you may recall the Rams playing four opponents coming off their bye weeks last season. It might've been the understatement of 2023 to say that was a competitive disadvantage. LA went 1-3 in those contests against the Steelers and Cowboys (back-to-back), Ravens and Commanders (also back-to-back).

As of this writing, we don't have visibility into the calendars of the Rams foes, yet. But as soon as they are public, we'll follow up in the hopes of avoiding such imbalance in 2024.

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