Schedule makes it official: Los Angeles Rams are a prime-time team

The NFL has released its 2018 regular-season schedule. Here's a look at what's in store for the Los Angeles Rams.

Breakdown: The Rams are coming off a first-place season, and now they will play a legitimate first-place schedule. They'll have five prime-time games, including Monday Night Football on the road against the Oakland Raiders, Thursday Night Football at home against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday Night Football on the road against the San Francisco 49ers, Monday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs from Mexico City and Sunday Night Football at home against the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Rams went from 10 consecutive losing seasons to an 11-5 record under coach Sean McVay in 2017. They have since added four stars in wide receiver Brandin Cooks, interior lineman Ndamukong Suh, and cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. The entire nation is interested.

Teacher versus student: McVay, 32, has no bigger mentor than Jon Gruden, and the Rams' second-year head coach will face the widely respected Gruden right away, when the Rams open their season in Oakland at 7:20 p.m. PT on Sept. 10. Gruden spent the past nine years serving as an ESPN analyst on Monday Night Football, but his first game back with the Raiders will see him coach on Monday Night Football. McVay was asked earlier this offseason if he would be excited to square off against Gruden. He lowered his head and simply said, "No." He was kidding. Maybe.

Clash of titans: The Rams' next four prime-time games will come against likely playoff teams. The Vikings (a Week 4 matchup) and the Eagles (Week 15) were the NFC's two best teams last year and could be again. The 49ers (Week 7) are clearly a completely different team under quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and the Chiefs (Week 11) look poised for their third straight AFC West title. Tough, out-of-division matchups also loom on the road against the Broncos (Week 6) and Saints (Week 9), and at home against the Chargers (Week 3) and Packers (Week 8). For the second straight year, the Rams will finish at home against the 49ers -- but that game might mean a lot more this time.

Lighter travel: No team traveled more miles than the Rams the past two years. This year, though, the travel will be a little lighter, largely because their mandated International Series game will take place in Mexico City instead of London. The Rams will get their bye after playing at Estadio Azteca. After that, they'll hit their only real tough travel stretch of the season, with back-to-back road games against the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears. Besides that, it's not bad. The Rams will also have three of their first four games at home, giving them a solid chance to get off to a fast start.

Strength of schedule: T-5th, .523

Rams regular-season schedule (All times Eastern)

  • Week 1: Monday, Sept. 10, at Oakland, 10:20 p.m.

  • Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, Arizona, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, L.A. Chargers, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 4: Thursday, Sep. 27, Minnesota, 8:20 p.m.

  • Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.

  • Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, at Denver, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, at San Francisco, 8:20 p.m.

  • Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.

  • Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, at New Orleans, 4:25 p.m.

  • Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, Seattle, 4:25 p.m.

  • Week 11: Monday, Nov. 19, Kansas City, 8:15 p.m. (game in Mexico City)

  • Week 12: BYE

  • Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at Detroit, 1 p.m.

  • Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, at Chicago, 1 p.m.

  • Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, Philadelphia, 8:20 p.m.

  • Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, at Arizona, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.