While some organizations have chosen to sit back and let their fans starve for NFL interaction, the St. Louis Rams went on the offensive earlier this week. No, they are not planning a “Meet and Greet” or giving away autographed memorabilia to those who can most quickly answer a trivia question. Instead, the Rams have gone “all-in,” offering $100,000 to any fan who can accurately predict the St. Louis Rams 2014 17-game schedule.
“In anticipation of the Rams’ 2014 regular-season schedule release, we are excited to offer fans the unique opportunity to win $100,000. We challenge our fans to accurately predict all 17 weeks of the team’s regular-season schedule and win the cash prize.” -Rams VP of Marketing, Brian Killingsworth
Simple enough, right? Well, maybe not. The reality is, the probability of correctly guessing the entire schedule is on-par with correctly picking a string of lottery numbers. There are countless variables that go into the “designing” of the NFL schedule, including some that seem almost nonsensical. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some guidelines to help you accurately predict your schedule.
What We Know
First and foremost, let’s cover the aspect of the 2014 schedule that is guaranteed (i.e. the list of opponents). Obviously, the St. Louis Rams will face off against each of the other NFC West opponents twice throughout the regular season; once at home, and once away. We also know who else the Rams will be playing, and their locations:
Home: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings
Away: Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you are formulating your 17-game schedule and these exact 13 teams are not on your docket, we regret to inform you that you will not be winning the contest…
What We Might Know
Other than the actual opponents, there are a handful of other tips that you can use to help formulate your schedule. Aside from predicting the actual order of the teams the Rams will play, you also have to predict when St. Louis will host their “Bye Week.” To highlight a trend, since 2007, the St. Louis Rams have held their Bye on Week 9 in four out of seven seasons, on Week 5 twice, and on Week 11 once. Based off those numbers, the smart money would be on Week 9 for 2014, especially considering they varied from that favored spot last season.
We also know that since 2009, the St. Louis Rams (and every team in the NFL, for that matter) have faced off against a division rival in the final week of the regular season. This was nuance added to the schedule by the commissioner in an attempt to force more “meaning” to games played at the end of the season, keeping more teams “in the hunt” by back-loading intra-divisional games. In three of the last four season, the Rams have faced off against the Seattle Seahawks in that final matchup. Moreover, all three of those games were played on Seattle soil. That seems to be a pretty rigid trend, although some might argue that the NFL will likely deviate from that pattern in up upcoming season, merely to “shake things up.”
Similarly, the NFL’s push to make the end of the season more meaningful has made the latter portion of the season somewhat more predictable. In fact, dating back to 2008, the Rams have faced, at least, three NFC West opponents in the final six games of the regular season every, single year.
Another interesting trend might help in dictating the “order” in which the St. Louis Rams will face their division rivals. Since 2008, the St. Louis Rams have regularly started divisional play against either the Seattle Seahawks or Arizona Cardinals, typically alternating back and forth between seasons. The Rams matched up with Arizona in the season opener last season, which might lend some believe they’ll face Seattle in the opening NFC West game this season.
While there is nothing to suggest that they Rams first game will be against a divisional opponent, it should be important to note that the Seahawks actual season opener would be in Seattle, since (aside from last season; thanks, Orioles) the defending Super Bowl Champions have ritualistically held their opener on their home turf.
Lastly, based off last year’s performance, the St. Louis Rams will likely only get one Monday Night Football game in the upcoming season. While that schedule is typically hard to predict, they typically reserve those spots for “marquee” matchups; a word that the media rarely uses in connection with the Rams.
Moreover, it is a “lock” that St. Louis (and every other team) will play one Thursday Night Football game every season. In that past, the majority of those games have been between division rivals, although that is not always the case. It is also important to note that Thursday Night Football has historically not ventured beyond Week 15 in the past (i.e. the second week of December), although rumors have suggested that the NFL will attempt to expand the number of games played earlier in the week.
As far as we could tell, there was no noticeable trend in predicting when the Rams will face off against their non-divisional opponents. The only remotely helpful pattern might be that, since 2007, St. Louis has never faced a division opponent heading into the Bye Week. Aside from that, you’re on your own!
Hopefully, some of this information will help you in formulating the winning 2014 schedule for the St. Louis Rams. To enter the contest, head over to the official St. Louis Rams site and cast your ballot. If you do win, we’re sure you’ll be willing to share some of that money with your favorite St. Louis Rams writers… right?! Good luck.