Week one of the regular season, yes the regular season, will be here before you know it, but for now we get to suffer through the preseason. Every year there are the games on the schedule that are seen as “must-win” games. And I hate to really call them must win games, because a game isn’t a must win game unless you are on the brink of a playoff spot. I would rather call these very important games. The Rams are looking to make a jump in 2013 and in order to do that they will have to beat other teams contending for the playoffs. Here are eight “must” win games for the Rams in 2013.
Week 1- Arizona Cardinals
This is not just any regular week one game, this is week one against a division opponent that similar to the Rams, believe they are on the rise. This is a game that will get the Rams off to a good start. If the Rams lose this game they could potentially start 0-2 as they play the Atlanta Falcons the following week. Not only is this game against a division opponent, which makes it important enough as is, but it is also a home game. It would be truly disappointing to send what I believe is going to be a packed Edward Jones dome home disappointed after a loss. The Rams swept the Cardinals last season, but the last time the Rams played Arizona in the Dome week one was in Sam Bradford’s rookie year, and that one didn’t turn out so well as the Rams gave up a 13-10 lead in the fourth quarter. The Rams are 2-8 in their last ten openers. Hopefully this year goes differently and the Rams start their season on a positive note.
Week 3- @Dallas Cowboys
There aren’t many week three must win games, but if there ever was one this would be it. The Cowboys have finished 8-8 the last two season, therefore it should be expected that they will be around that mark once again this season. The last playoff spot usually goes to a team between 8-10 wins, therefore the Rams may need this game for tiebreaker purposes in order to make the playoffs. The Rams got demolished by the Cowboys in 2011 34-7. The Rams have come a long way since then, and hopefully the Rams can come out of week three with a win.
Week 4- San Francisco 49ers
This game will be a huge game for the Rams. It’s a divisional game against a top contender at home. If the Rams want to have a shot at winning the division they must do what they did last year and protect their home field. Winning this game could also put the Rams ahead of the 49ers in the division. This game will be on a short week against the 49ers which will be a perfect opportunity to catch the 49ers off guard. Thursday Night Football, primetime, it’s time to show the country what the Rams are all about. Jeff Fisher will have his team ready and hopefully continue to frustrate the 49ers.
Week 7- @Carolina Panthers
This will be another game against a team looking to make it to the playoffs. What makes it even better is that it’s against an old division rival and the 2010 number one overall pick versus the 2011 number one overall pick. At the end of season the Rams may just need this game in order to make the playoffs. Cam Newton said he wants to win now, the Rams need to spoil that plan. The Rams and Panthers last played in 2010 when the Rams won 20-10. A lot has changed with both teams since that day. Hopefully the Rams can still end up with the same result.
Week 8- Seattle Seahawks
The Rams need this game for the same reasons they need to win the 49ers same. This will be a home game against a tough division opponent on prime time television. The Rams must now show the rest of the country that they are not a fluke after beating the 49ers. The Rams and Seahawks split in close games last season. The games shouldn’t be any different this year. Winning this game would put the Rams in a great spot in the division and possibly even put some space between them and the rest of the West. The Rams must win this game to win the division and gain respect in the media.
Week 12- Chicago Bears
The Rams got blown out by the Bears last season 23-6. The game was a lot closer than it looked, but the result is still a loss, close or not. The Rams have improved since last season and should get more offensive help to attack the Bears defense. This game will be at home and after a week off which should give the Rams an advantage. I don’t think the Bears will be as good as they were last year, but you never know, they could be in the playoff hunt, which will make this game an important one for the Rams. On a side note, Chris Long will play against his younger brother for the first time ever, that will be a fun matchup to watch.
Week 15- New Orleans Saints
The playoffs will hopefully be within reach for the Rams at this point in the season. This is another old NFC West rivalry and it will have all the drama you could ask for. Both teams will be in the playoff hunt and this game could be the difference of making the playoffs or sitting on the couch at home in January. This game will be at home where the Rams have won three of last four meetings. This will be about slowing down Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense and whether or not the Rams offense can keep up.
Week 16- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last season the Rams beat the Buccaneers late in the year in Tampa Bay. Hopefully this one will go much the same, because the Bucs are looking to make the playoffs with an improved secondary. The Rams have the end of the season set up perfectly, all of the important games late in the year, they get to play at home. The Rams will need to take advantage of that part of the scheduling. If the Rams win this game they could just clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2004.
In my opinion all the games for the Rams are important, but winning these games would put them in a good spot. These games may stick out as being important, but the road games against the division and the games against the Titans and Jaguars shouldn’t be taken lightly. Beating the Falcons in week two will also be important as it will show where the Rams are at as a team. Week 17 against the Seahawks could also determine who wins the division. 2013 will be an exciting season and if the Rams win these eight games the excitement could just extend into the playoffs.