I'm sure this will come as little solace to Rams fans, but I certainly believe that St. Louis was the best last-place team in the 2014 season. In fact, I don't think it's close (even though Cleveland had one more win). I was big on the St. Louis bandwagon last preseason with what looked like a killer defense, but I jumped off as soon as quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a season-ending torn ACL (again). At least Rams fans don't have to worry about the brittle Bradford any longer.
Could this be the final season that the Rams play in St. Louis? Certainly could be. Team owner Stan Kroenke, one of the richest men on the planet, already has a head start on a stadium plan in Los Angeles (Inglewood to be exact). The NFL wants two teams to share a stadium, and Kroenke's plans are to build his to do so. It's just that the league may prefer the Chargers/Raiders dual plan in Carson, Calif. Kroenke may not care and could try to move even if the other league owners don't give him the approval. He certainly has the money to fight in court.
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And I don't think Kroenke will get approval if St. Louis comes up with a plan to build a new stadium. Late last month, six Missouri legislators sued Gov. Jay Nixon and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority over Nixon's ability to extend bonds on the Edward Jones Dome to pay for the proposed new stadium on the river. I'm not going to get into what that all means because I doubt I will understand it. I do think there's a solid chance the Rams stay.
St. Louis was 3-5 at home last season, 3-5 against the spread and 5-3 "over/under." The Rams' 2015 home schedule ranks as the 15th-toughest in the NFL with an opponents' combined 2014 winning percentage of .523. It's the second-easiest in the NFC West.
Here's the schedule with very early (opponent) odds.
Sept. 13 -- Seahawks (-3.5): If St. Louis really thinks it can contend in the NFC West, I guess we will find out right away against the NFC favorites. Of course, this will be the Rams debut of new starting QB Nick Foles, assuming he's not hurt. One of the Rams' best wins last season was 28-26 over visiting Seattle in Week 7. I know for a fact that killed some people in Survivor Pools. The Rams used a couple of trick plays in the upset, including one that led to a 90-yard punt return touchdown from Stedman Bailey. They scored more than 20 points against Seattle for the first time in 15 meetings since 2006. Key trend: Rams have covered four straight as home dog in series.
Sept. 27 -- Steelers (+1): St. Louis is off a trip to Washington in Week 2, while Pittsburgh is home to San Francisco. Good news for Rams here: This is the final game of star Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell's suspension, unless that is shortened by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Bell is appealing; I'd bet Steelers favored if he plays. First Pittsburgh visit in eight years. Key trend: Rams 5-4-1 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC.
Oct. 25 -- Browns (+6): Huge break between home games as Rams are at Arizona and Green Bay following the Steelers and then on the bye in Week 6. Browns are home to Denver the previous Sunday. Might Rams first-round pick Todd Gurley, the running back from Georgia, be ready off his major knee surgery by this game? Key trend: Rams 6-4 ATS in past 10 after a bye week (any location).
Nov. 1 -- 49ers (+1): San Francisco has a bit of extra time ahead of this one as it's home to Seattle in Week 7 on Thursday night. Rams lost to 49ers 31-17 at home on a Monday night in Week 6 last season. Rams QB Austin Davis, presumably Foles' backup this season, had a nice start as St. Louis led 14-0 after one quarter, but then they did nothing. Davis was 10-for-28 in the second half for only 99 yards and threw an interception returned for a score in the final minute. He was sacked five times. Key trend: Rams 4-6 ATS in past 10 at home in series.
Nov. 15 -- Bears (+4.5): St. Louis comes off a game at Minnesota, while Chicago is on a short week, visiting San Diego on Monday night in Week 9. Rams coach Jeff Fisher played for the Bears from 1981-84. Last meeting was a Rams 42-21 home rout in November 2013. The QBs that day were Kellen Clemens and Josh McCown. Should be a little better matchup here if everyone is healthy. Key trend: Rams 3-7 ATS in past 10 at home as a favorite of at least 4 points.
Dec. 6 -- Cardinals (+1): This follows road games to Baltimore and then Cleveland for St. Louis. Arizona is in San Francisco in Week 12. These teams played on a Thursday in Week 15 last season and the Cards won really ugly 12-6 to start St. Louis on a season-ending three-game losing streak. The Rams did become the first team since the 2011 Dolphins to not allow any touchdowns in three straight games. They had won their two previous games (Raiders, Redskins) by a combined score of 76-0. Key trend: Rams 1-9 ATS in past 10 as home favorite in series.
Dec. 13 -- Lions (+1.5): Extra time to prepare for Detroit as it hosts Green Bay on a Thursday in Week 13. Sometimes playing in a dome is an advantage for the Rams, but it won't much matter here because the Lions do as well. Somehow, Detroit has visited St. Louis just once since 1994. Key trend: Rams 2-8 ATS in past 10 at home vs. NFC North.
Dec. 17 -- Buccaneers (+8): Will we have a stadium/L.A. resolution by here? Could be an emotional day inside the Edward Jones Dome in the potential home finale. This is the Thursday night game in Week 15, the only scheduled prime-time game of 2015 for St. Louis. Tampa is off a home game vs. New Orleans for the quick turnaround. Rams got their first win of 2014 in Week 2 at Tampa, 19-17. Davis made his first NFL start and was a solid 22-for-29 for 235 yards with no turnovers. Greg Zuerlein's fourth field goal of the day, a 38-yarder with 38 seconds remaining, won it. Key trend: Rams have been a home favorite of at least a touchdown just once since 2005 (covered vs. Jags in 2013).
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