We’ve seen the Los Angeles Rams 2022 schedule.
We’re not that worried about star defensive lineman Aaron Donald is talking about retiring.
He wouldn’t, would he?
And now we see what the sportsbooks think about the Rams’ regular-season chances.
DraftKings has pegged the Rams over/under win total at 10.5 (-110 either way). That is the fifth-highest total on the board for any team. Buffalo and Tampa Bay are each 11.5. Green Bay is 11 and Kansas City is also 10.5.
It’s just a projection, and if you lose closer at the DraftKings weekly board, they have the Rams favored in 13 games, underdogs in three, and a pick’em against the Green Bay Packers.
Of course, those lines will change as the season gets closer.
So what gives? Why will the Rams win 11 games in the 2022 season and why will they fall short of that number? Let’s look at both sides.
The case for 11-plus
The Rams are the defending Super Bowl champions. They were 16-5 last year.
They still have one of the best offensive attacks in the league directed by quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp. They still have Donald, who is simply the most valuable player at his position in the NFL.
When the schedule came out, it was noted that the Rams were facing the toughest schedule in the NFL as its opponents went 164-125 last year.
But that’s a misnomer. NFL teams are constantly changing. Who cares about last year? Did anyone think the Cincinnati Bengals would be a tough team last year at this time? No. Last year’s records mean nothing.
Likewise, there might be a team on the Rams schedule today that we all think is a chalk W (like, say, the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2) but maybe the Falcons have a star rookie quarterback (Desmond Ridder) who is the next big thing? You never know.
The Rams have a lot of things going for them though to get over 10.5 wins and it all starts with the NFC West. The Seahawks are a mess. They traded Russell Wilson for Drew Lock? The 49ers are looking to go with unproven Trey Lance at quarterback. The Cardinals seem to be on the brink of collapse. The Rams could get five division wins easily.
The case for minus 11
A lot of historical things are working against the Rams. First of all, let’s look at last year. The Rams played eight games last year decided by a touchdown or less. They finished 7-1 in those eight. That kind of luck doesn’t usually carry over.
Since 2000, 11 Super Bowl winners have finished with 11 wins or more. That bodes well for the Rams. But since 2000, the Rams have only won 11 or more games in the regular season five times (2021, 2018, 2017, 2003 and 2001).
11 wins is hard in the NFL. Although it’s gotten a little easier with the addition of a 17th regular season game. The other thing working for the Rams also could work against them in the quest for 11 wins: the division. It’s possible the Rams could have sewn up a playoff spot and/or division title by Week 17. That’s when they face the Chargers and then they face Seattle in Week 18. Would they still be playing to win those games?
The final call
When I first looked at the Rams schedule, I came up with 12 wins, the same as last year. There are some games right away that look like wins, and some games that look like losses, most notably at Kansas City in Week 12 and at Tampa Bay in Week 9.
Invariably, an NFL team usually wins a game or two it shouldn’t and loses a game or two it shouldn’t.
Then there is the greatest unknown in any NFL season: injuries. But not just to your favorite team, but the team that you’re playing on the schedule. Are the Cardinals the same without Kyler Murray, if he were to get hurt? Or even Tom Brady and the Bucs? Who you play is a big thing, but how healthy a team is when you play a team matters even more.
I still like the Rams to win 12 games as of early June, but the NFL never stops changing.