Early ranking of Rams’ 2021 opponents, from easiest to toughest

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Cameron DaSilva
·7 min read
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We don’t yet know what the Los Angeles Rams’ schedule will look like next season, but their 13 opponents for the 2021 campaign have been determined. It’s still early in the offseason and the rosters of every team in the NFL will change between now and September, but we have a good idea of which teams will be contenders and which ones will be near the bottom of the league already.

We put together an early ranking of the Rams’ opponents in 2021, listing them from easiest to toughest. There are clearly some less threatening teams on their schedule, but also some legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Even if Trevor Lawrence is instantly a Pro Bowler, assuming he goes No. 1 to Jacksonville, the Jaguars are not going to be very good. They have holes all over their roster besides just quarterback, needing help at wide receiver, along the offensive line and in the secondary. The Rams will play them at SoFi Stadium, which means the Jaguars will be traveling across the country and going across three time zones. They won’t give Los Angeles much trouble next season.

Detroit Lions

No disrespect to Jared Goff, who will be Detroit’s quarterback next season, but the Lions probably won’t be very competitive in 2021. Like the Jaguars, they’re in the middle of a rebuild and don’t have much of a supporting cast around their quarterback. Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay will both be free agents in March so Goff could be thin on quality receiving targets initially in Detroit. The Rams should beat the Lions, especially with the game being at home.

Houston Texans

The Texans and Deshaun Watson appear destined for a split, and if Houston does trade him, the rebuild will be set in motion. The Texans will stockpile picks in that scenario, which they won’t reap the benefits of for at least another year. Will Fuller will be a free agent, J.J. Watt is gone, and the roster as a whole looks weak heading into next season. They’ll be more competitive with Watson on the team, but that seems unlikely at this point.

New York Giants

The Giants gave the Rams a run for their money last season, playing well defensively to not only keep the game competitive, but nearly pull off the upset. Daniel Jones still looks like a below-average starter, however, which could hold the Giants back again in 2021. What will make them a bigger threat is the return of Saquon Barkley, who missed most of the 2020 season with a knee injury. If Jones can improve significantly and become an above-average starter next season, the Giants may not be an easy out.

Chicago Bears

The Bears have no idea who their quarterback will be next season, which is a problem in its own right. They still have talent on defense, but the questions at quarterback and Allen Robinson’s uncertain future make the Bears a lesser threat in the NFC. And as an added benefit, the Rams will be hosting the Bears, so they won’t have to play in windy Chicago. Unless the Bears make a splash with someone like Watson, the offense isn’t going to be much of a problem for Los Angeles next season.

Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins is likely to remain the Vikings’ quarterback next season, barring a surprising change. That keeps their floor relatively high, but it does limit their ceiling a bit, too. Dalvin Cook is one of the top three running backs in football, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen are a dangerous wide receiver tandem and Cousins is a quarterback who can fill a box score. Being on the road in this one will make it more challenging for the Rams, too. The Vikings aren’t a team they should take lightly.

Indianapolis Colts

With Philip Rivers retiring, the Colts have a hole at quarterback. It’s anyone’s guess who will be their starter in Week 1, with the options ranging from Jacoby Brissett to Jacob Eason to Carson Wentz. No matter who’s under center, though, they will be a team to take seriously. The offensive line is elite, their running game is strong and the defense has plenty of talent, especially up front. This game will be in Indianapolis, so the Rams will be traveling for their date with the Colts.

Arizona Cardinals

The Rams have absolutely owned the Cardinals since Sean McVay took over, going 8-0 in the last four years. They were positioned well to make the playoffs last season before a late-season collapse, but this is a team that’s going to be in contention again in 2021. With Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins alone, the Cardinals are a tough offense to slow down. Their defense needs addressing, but the Rams shouldn’t overlook Arizona, especially having to face the Cardinals twice.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans came up short in the playoffs for the second straight season but they’re not going anywhere. They’ll remain one of the top teams in the AFC next season despite being thin on pass rushers. The combination of Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill and A.J. Brown will keep Tennessee in the hunt in 2021. Fortunately, the Rams won’t have to travel across the country to face the Titans in this matchup, hosting them at SoFi Stadium. This will be one of the Rams’ tougher games, especially if Tennessee can find a pass rusher or two this offseason.

San Francisco 49ers

Will Jimmy Garoppolo be the 49ers’ quarterback next season? Or will they make a push for Watson? That’s the biggest question facing San Francisco right now, but otherwise, this is a Super Bowl contender in the NFC. The 49ers’ rushing attack, defense and young talent at wide receiver make them a threat in the NFC West, and with the way they’ve played against the Rams, Sean McVay’s squad should take their division rivals very seriously.

Seattle Seahawks

So long as Russell Wilson is under center, the Seahawks will be a team that fights for the NFC West title. They’ve never finished worse than 9-7 with Wilson as their quarterback and it’s hard to see that changing in 2021. Facing Seattle twice a year is something no team wants to do, though the Rams always play them well, it seems. The division could come down to the Rams and Seahawks, though Los Angeles probably has an edge now with Matthew Stafford at quarterback.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Rams will host the defending champions next season and with the way the Buccaneers’ players are talking ahead of free agency, it seems many of them will be back next season. Los Angeles already beat Tom Brady and the Bucs last season and should be able to do it again, but every expectation is that the Buccaneers will be one of the best teams in football. There’s a good chance this matchup will be in prime time as they’re both projected to be among the top teams in the NFC next season. Chris Godwin could leave, as might Leonard Fournette, but Tampa Bay is still loaded – and has a seven-time Super Bowl champion at QB.

Green Bay Packers

A rematch of the divisional round game between the Rams and Packers will certainly be one to watch. Green Bay is the best team on the Rams’ 2021 schedule. Yes, even better than the Buccaneers. Aaron Rodgers is the reigning MVP, Davante Adams is arguably the best wideout in football and the defense is littered with young playmakers who will be back next season. Not to mention, the game will be played in Green Bay, which makes this matchup even more difficult. It’s still really early, but this will most likely be a measuring-stick game for the Rams, whenever it falls on the schedule.

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