The reward for being the defending Super Bowl champions for the Los Angeles Rams: A schedule featuring more road blocks than daytime construction on Interstate 405.
The road to State Farm Stadium for the Rams includes the league’s toughest schedule — officially announced on Thursday, May 12. What’s included this time around? Four games against 2021 playoff teams before the bye week, a road rematch of their epic divisional round contest at Tampa Bay and three aspiring AFC West contenders that loaded up through free agency and the draft to bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to the conference.
But we at Heavy on Rams can’t highlight every game. We’re zeroing in on five of the most important matchups for the upcoming season. And how we’ll base it is off this: Reunion angles, potential Super Bowl preview contests and games that could involve a pivotal push for the postseason late in the year. Here are the five most important games in chronological order.
The September Reunion & October Heavyweight Division Battle
Bills at Rams, Week One, September 8, 5:20 p.m. PT: Noted by Heavy on Rams reporter Conor Roche, the Bills are on deck first. Von Miller returns to the “Rams House” and at the place where he won his second-ever Super Bowl ring. Best believe Buffalo will have Miller testing Andrew Whitworth’s projected replacement Joe Noteboom that evening. But also, Stefon Diggs goes toe-to-toe against Jalen Ramsey. Their last battle saw Diggs catch 4-of-6 targets on Ramsey for 49 yards and a touchdown in the 2020 meeting won by Buffalo 35-32. It’s also the debut of new Rams wideout Allen Robinson. We get the earliest Super Bowl 57 preview here with Aaron Donald, Josh Allen and stars all over the field.
Rams at 49ers, Week 4, October 3, 5:15 p.m. PT: These two teams last met in that climatic NFC Championship game that ended the Rams’ skid of losses to their longtime bitter division rival 20-17. However, the last time these NFC West heavyweights played on Monday Night Football, the 49ers pummeled the Rams with 156 yards on the ground in their 31-10 romp at Levi’s Stadium — which helped spark the 49ers’ red-hot streak into the conference title game. We get to find out early on who’s the early division, or even NFC, contender here.
Rams Shoot for Four in a Row Against the Goat
Rams at Buccaneers, Week 9, November 6, 1:25 p.m. PT: It’s one thing for the Rams to snatch the heart from a Buccaneers rally following that pulsating deep catch by Cooper Kupp from Matthew Stafford, then followed by that walk-off field goal for the win by Matt Gay. But Tampa Bay has lost their last three contests against the Rams — which means seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, once 5-1 versus the Rams including the two Super Bowl wins, is yet to win a game over L.A. as a Buccaneer.
AFC West Contenders as Final Road Blocks
Rams at Chiefs, Week 12, November 27, 1:25 p.m. PT: If this game is anything, anything, like that theatrical 54-51 Rams win back in 2018 that also saw 1,001 total yards of offense, then we’re not only in for a treat…we could be seeing these two again in Glendale, Arizona on February 12, 2023.
Rams at Chargers, Week 17, January 1, 5:20 p.m. PT: It came down to the Bolts or Raiders for the fifth important game on the Rams’ schedule. But here’s the reasons why the Chargers are the pick here: Former Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley faces Sean McVay and company for the first time in his head coaching career, plus will have Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson in tow. Former Ram Sebastian Joseph-Day is also on the other side. Finally, this being a New Year’s Day game, this could mean serious playoff or home field advantage implications. We’ll also find out who has more L.A. fans between the two teams when they clash at SoFi for the first day of 2023. Oh, the Chargers tried their hand at trolling their L.A. neighbor on schedule release day.