THOUSAND OAKS — There’s no roller-coaster on the SoFi Stadium property, said to be 3 1/2 times the size of Disneyland. Instead, that thrill ride is built into the Rams’ schedule. Get ready for some ups and downs.
The first Rams schedule of the SoFi era starts with a steep climb and ends with twists and turns. In between, fans might have reason to shout.
The Rams are counting on unproven talent to replace leaders of last year’s 9-7 team. They’re widely forecast to miss the nine wins likely required to make the seven-team NFC postseason. But success in September could make them playoff contenders right to the end.
Here’s a week-by-week look at how they might do it:
The Rams are 3-point underdogs to a team that gave them a hard time in 2019. Anything can happen in this weird year, with two remade defenses, in a new venue. Win. Rams record: 1-0
Jared Goff lost to Carson Wentz in 2017 in the other meeting of 2016’s No. 1 and 2 picks. Sean McVay is 5-2 vs. the spread in morning (L.A. time) starts. Loss. Rams record: 1-1
The plan was to stay back east between the Eagles and Bills games, but the NFL won’t allow that for COVID-19 reasons. So the Rams have a tough back-and-forth. Loss. Rams record: 1-2
Softest home game? On paper, yes, but it’s the Rams’ first time playing against Saquon Barkley, a test for the team’s new linebacking corps. Win. Rams record: 2-2
Softest road game? Looks like it. The way the schedules were built, the Rams will have played the entire NFC East before they face anyone in their own division. Win. Rams record: 3-2
This year’s NFC West play starts where last year’s Rams playoff chase ended. Close division losses at San Francisco and Seattle ruined the 2019 season. Loss. Rams record: 3-3
SoFi’s first Monday night game. Weirdly, it’s the third consecutive year the Rams meet the Bears in prime time. The first two, an L and a W, were interesting tactical battles. Win. Rams record: 4-3
A chance to finish the first half of the season, and go into the off week, on an up note. Miami will improve after a strong draft and free-agent moves, but how soon? Win. Rams record: 5-3
It’ll be fun to watch Aaron Donald chase Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who jumped up to No. 2 while Donald slipped to No. 3 (from No. 1) in the NFL Top 100. Win. Rams record: 6-3
Monday night. The Rams try to purge memories of Tom Brady, 5-0 against them since a loss in his eighth career start, and the Bucs, who decked them last September. Loss. Rams record: 6-4
Second meeting between the past two NFC champions. This week and next might determine if the Rams, third in the division last year, move up … or down. Win. Rams record: 6-5
Last in 2019, the Cardinals have second-year Kyler Murray passing to DeAndre Hopkins. The Rams have scored 30-plus in each of six consecutive wins against Arizona. Loss. Rams record: 6-6
Thursday night. Two stats on McVay: He’s 10-2 – and 7-4 against the spread – in the regular season vs. the AFC, and was 5-1 against the spread at night in 2019. Win. Rams record: 7-6
As the schedule flexibility implies, this game could get attention nationally as well as in Los Angeles if ex-USC quarterback Sam Darnold is leading a Jets revival. Win. Rams record: 8-6
Games against Pete Carroll’s Seahawks are always meaningful. The Rams won by two in Seattle in 2018, lost by one when a kick missed by inches in 2019. Loss. Rams record: 8-7
The Rams will be happy if their playoff hopes come down to this game. If NFL teams complete 16-game schedules in this year, that will be a triumph in itself. Win. Rams record: 9-7