Earlier tonight the 2014 NFL Schedule was finally released, now if only the draft would arrive. For now, to take you away from all the draft talk, we will break down the schedule and take a look at who the other teams in the NFC West play.
St. Louis Rams
Vikings, @Tampa Bay, Dallas, Bye,
@Eagles, 49ers, Seahawks, @Chiefs,
@49ers, @Cardinals, Broncos, @Chargers,
Raiders, @Redskins, Cardinals, Giants, @Seahawks
The Rams by far, have the easiest schedule among the rest of the division when it comes to the first four games. This could be nice as it could give the Rams an early lead in the division given that the other three teams in the division all drew at least two playoff teams in the first four weeks while the Rams have none.
You don’t win the division in the first four weeks, but an early lead could help a Rams team trying to make the next step. The Rams also struggled to find themselves in the early goings of the season last year, therefore playing an easier set of opponents could help the Rams find their groove early. Not to say the Vikings Bucs, and Cowboys are easy opponents, they just aren’t the Broncos, Packers, and Seahawks.
The Rams have an early bye in week four which could be costly if they get injured in the middle of the year. The Rams also have a tough three game road stretch in weeks 8-10, and if the Rams can’t find a way to win at least one of those, it could cost them a playoff spot. The Rams also finish the season with two of the final three games against division opponents, which includes a week 17 finale against the Seahawks in Seattle which would be the fourth time in five years. Tradition or conspiracy?
Chargers,@Giants, 49ers, Bye,
@Broncos, Redskins, @Raiders, Eagles,
@Cowboys, Rams, Lions, @Seahawks,
@Falcons, Chiefs, @Rams, Seahawks, @49ers
The Cardinals will have difficult tests in the early goings of the season against the Chargers and 49ers, and even the Giants. Luckily for them though, those games will be at home. Where things will get difficult is when the team has to travel to Denver and to Atlanta.
The Cardinals also end the season playing all the other three NFC West opponents back to back to back, including two of the three on the road. How the Cardinals do in that stretch of games, could determine if the team makes the playoffs.
Packers, @Chargers, Broncos, Bye,
@Redskins, Cowboys, @Rams, @Panthers, Raiders,
Giants, @Chiefs, Cardinals, @49ers,
@Eagles, 49ers, @Cardinals, Rams
Could we have a repeat of the ‘fail-mary’ week one of the regular season? Highly doubtful, but opening up against the Packers will be an early test for the defending Super Bowl Champs. The very next week they are on the road against a Chargers team that found themselves late in the season, and then have a Super Bowl repeat at home against the Broncos. Not an easy way to start the season.
Like the Rams and Cardinals, the Seahawks have an early bye. The ‘Hawks will have a difficult test on the road against the Panthers in the middle of the season, and then at the end of the season is where things will get difficult as the Seahawks finish the season with three consecutive games against the other three NFC West Opponents like the Cardinals. In fact four of the final five games will be division games, and like the Cardinals, that stretch of games could determine if the team gets a shot at repeating as Super Bowls champs.
@Cowboys, Bears, @Cardinals, Eagles,
Chiefs, @Rams, @Broncos, Bye,
Rams, @Saints, @Giants, Redskins,
Seahawks, @Raiders, @Seahawks, Chargers, Cardinals
Something that immediately jumps out, is that the 49ers are the only team in the division to not have a bye week in week four, they get theirs in week eight, and then of course play the Rams coming out of the bye.
Looking at the early games, the Cowboys, Bears, and Cardinals won’t be overly difficult games for the tough 49ers, but without Bowman, playing on the road twice in three weeks could turn out to be difficult and the 49ers could fall behind.
The Niners also play in Denver and in New Orleans, both of which will be difficult games. They do also will play the Seahawks twice in three weeks late in the season in week 13 and 15.
By the looks of it, the NFC West will be a dogfight until the end and some of the division games at the end of the season will have a lot of meaning to them. This is a division with four very difficult teams, and the team that survives, very well could make a Super Bowl run like the Seahawks and 49ers have done the last two years.