If the LA Rams schedule expands to 17 games, who would they play?
By Jay Blucher
If you’ve been following the latest buzz about the LA Rams or even the NFL as a whole, you may have caught wind of a proposed 17th game in the NFL schedule as soon as the 2021 NFL season.
But if that happens, when will it take place? Where will it take place? And perhaps most importantly, who will the LA Rams face if it takes place?
The ‘why’ it will happen is fairly straightforward. When the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was signed in 2020 between the NFL and the NFLPA last off-season, one of the new wrinkles agreed upon by both sides was the potential to play 17 games.
But here’s where it gets a bit murky because while the agreement raises the ability to schedule 17 games, there’s nothing set in stone about when (or even if) that will happen, although most everyone anticipates that the expanded schedule is most likely to happen in 2021. The reason? More revenue for the NFL and a bigger share of the total will be directed to the salary cap. Soon teams will begin negotiating their television broadcast contracts, there’s an added incentive for the expanded NFL schedule to begin in 2021.
After all, Covid-19 was not exactly kind to the turnstiles at well over $5 billion So-Fi Stadium, as it sits empty, forlorn-looking. Gotta’ recoup a few Benjamins.
LA Rams 17th game features Baltimore Ravens
If a 17-game schedule were to happen, the Baltimore Ravens would be added to the back end of the Rams’ existing 2021 schedule as their last game. (although it’s unknown whether it would be a home game or away game). Per the agreement, half of the teams are slated to play the 17th game as a home game and half will play it on the road.
The NFL has tossed around the idea of using that extra game in a neutral site. Therefore, games that have been played in England, Mexico, or other international stadiums could be the chosen sites for these NFL additions to the schedule.
Considering the Ravens are a likely playoff contender, this matchup could be a significant challenge for the Rams, who would be coming down to the end of the season in what most believe will be a tightly contested NFC West race, with playoff berths likely on the line for one or both teams here.
‘Bawlamer’ last played the Rams two seasons ago, and pretty much had their way with the Rams in a Monday Night Football beatdown that resulted in a lopsided 45-6. QB Lamar Jackson torched the Rams secondary for five touchdown passes that game. Ex-Ram cornerback Marcus Peters had just been traded and grabbed an interception off QB Goff that night too, one of two INTs he threw that game. Per Peter King in his latest Football Morning in America, he listed the Ravens versus the Rams as one of the best games of the season:
"‘Baltimore v L.A. Rams. In 2019, the high-flying Ravens put up 45 on the Rams. Matthew Stafford will have something to say about that now."
The game would certainly pit two almost diametrically opposed offensive philosophies against one another. But in that same article, King is less than confident that a 17th game will even take place in 2021. That was confirmed later by Warren Sapp.
It will be on the agenda at the NFL owner’s meeting. If approved, there is a 0.5 percent kicker to sweeten the player’s salary cap for the following year. In short, a 17 game season in 2021 means a larger salary cap in 2022.
Ravens really run
In 2020, those same Ravens boasted the NFL’s best rushing attack – a three-headed beast that includes dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson under center. Their style of smash-mouthed ground-pounding offense and overall physical style of football will be a real test to the durability of the Rams roster.
The Ravens will be tasked with trying to counter the Rams’ new cannon-armed QB Matthew Stafford, and what is expected to be a more exciting and dynamic aerial attack from the Rams. While it remains to be seen, it was head coach Sean McVay’s stated goals to field a far more explosive and quick-strike offense in 2021.
The 17th game could have a significant playoff impact for both teams.