Coming off their Super Bowl season, the Los Angeles Rams went into 2022 with the toughest schedule in the NFL. While injuries also played a huge factor, that tough schedule wound up being the Rams’ downfall as they got off to a rough start from the very beginning, never being able to recover and finishing 5-12 to miss the postseason.
It was the worst season for a defending Super Bowl champion in NFL history, but at this point, there’s no reason to continue to sulk and wonder what went wrong. It’s time to begin looking ahead to how the franchise can get back on track in 2023.
With Sean McVay returning as head coach, the expectation is that the Rams will give it another go with their current core hoping they can bounce back with better healthy. And maybe an easier schedule?
Diving into Rams 2023 schedule
The one positive of the Rams struggling in 2022 and finishing in third place in the NFC West is that they theoretically will have an easier schedule in 2023. Key word: theoretically.
The way the NFL schedule works, the Rams will of course play their division teams twice a year. In 2023, L.A. will also play the entire NFC East and AFC North divisions. The rest of their schedule will be filled with other third-place teams from 2022. While a lot can change year to year, that should be easier than this past season when the Rams were playing other first place teams.
Despite all that though, the Rams are projected to have the ninth-hardest schedule in the NFL in 2023:
It is interesting to see that the Rams still have one of the most difficult schedules despite being a third-place team. The biggest reason for this is their division games – the San Francisco 49ers were 13-4 in 2022 and the Seattle Seahawks were 9-8 and L.A. will play each of them twice. Two games against the 4-13 Arizona Cardinals, who will have a new coach should even that out a bit, however.
Examining why Rams’ schedule is so tough
It’s not just the NFC West teams that make the Rams’ schedule so difficult though. Arguably the best division in football in 2022 was the NFC East with three teams making the playoffs.
The Rams will play all of them in 2023, which includes the 14-3 Philadelphia Eagles, 12-5 Dallas Cowboys, 9-7-1 New York Giants and 8-8-1 Washington Commanders.
And then, the Rams play arguably the best AFC division as well in the North that includes the 12-4 Cincinnati Bengals, 10-7 Baltimore Ravens, 9-8 Pittsburgh Steelers and 7-10 Cleveland Browns. Some of these teams could look much different in 2023 as Lamar Jackson’s situation in Baltimore remains unresolved and then the Browns will have a full season of Deshaun Watson at quarterback.
The third-place teams the Rams will play to close out their schedule include the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts, all of whom could be better in 2023 depending on their quarterback situations.
I’m going to state this again because I think it’s an important note when discussing strength of schedule, especially this early: We have no clue what teams are going to look like in 2023.
The Rams are a perfect example of that. Teams that saw the Rams on their schedule going into the 2022 season probably weren’t very happy about it. But after a month of season when the defending champs were decimated by injuries? Teams didn’t mind playing L.A. so much then (unless you’re the Las Vegas Raiders on a Thursday night two days after Baker Mayfield showed up feeling dangerous).
Looking at what we have in front of us at this moment though, it is looking like the Rams will face another gauntlet of a schedule in 2023 which has all L.A. fans shaking their heads considering it is a third-place schedule.