At first glance, the Rams' 2014 schedule looks brutal
The Rams' regular season schedule includes two prime-time games, eight matchups against teams that made the playoffs last season and 10 against teams that finished with winning records.
Sam Bradford and the Rams are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2004 season.
Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports
By Nate LatschFOX Sports Midwest
ST. LOUIS -- The 2014 NFL schedule won't make it easy for the St. Louis Rams to snap their streak of consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance.
The Rams' regular-season schedule, which was released Wednesday night, includes eight games against teams that made the playoffs last season and 10 against teams that finished with winning records.
That figures to be a difficult challenge for a St. Louis team that improved during Jeff Fisher's first two years as coach but hasn't made the playoffs since the 2004 season -- and hasn't had a winning record since 2003.
It's possible for the Rams to take that next step and qualify for a playoff berth, but they will have to fare better against the rugged NFC West Division, where they lost five of six games last season.
The Rams, who went 7-9 a year ago, already had six games against the Super Bowl champion Seahawks (13-3), 49ers (12-4) and Cardinals (10-6) in the NFC West but now will also have to play the AFC West.
That means games against the AFC champion Broncos (13-3) as well as playoff teams in the in-state rival Chiefs (11-5) and the Chargers (9-7).
The Seahawks, Broncos and 49ers are three of the top four favorites to win the 2015 Super Bowl, according to the Bovada Online Sportsbook. The Seahawks are getting 6-1 odds, with the Broncos at 7-1 and the 49ers and Patriots each at 15-2.
The Rams are at 50-1 odds, if anyone's feeling lucky.
The 2014 schedule will include a pair of high-profile, nationally televised games.
The Rams will host the 49ers on Monday Night Football in Week 6, on Oct. 12, and then host the Cardinals in a Thursday night matchup in Week 15 (Dec. 11).
St. Louis did catch a break with the first three weeks of the campaign. The Rams will open at home against the Vikings (5-10-1), then go to Tampa Bay (4-12) before hosting the Cowboys (8-8).
Fisher's squad beat the Buccaneers 23-13 in Week 16 at the Edward Jones Dome last season with Kellen Clemens at quarterback but lost at Dallas 31-7 in Week 3 with Sam Bradford. The Rams lost to Minnesota 36-22 at home late in the 2012 season.
The Rams will need to take advantage of that early stretch of games if they are to have a chance to end their two dubious streaks.
You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter (@natelatsch) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.