Rams to open 2018 season against Oakland on ‘Monday Night Football’

A turnaround season in 2017 propelled the Rams into a contender. An offseason of star-player acquisitions made them the talk of the NFL.

Now the Rams and second-year coach Sean McVay are in the prime-time spotlight.

The NFL released its schedule Thursday, and the Rams are slated for five prime-time games.

They open Sept. 10 at Oakland on “Monday Night Football” on ESPN, host the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 27 on “Thursday Night Football” on FOX, travel to play the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 21 on “Sunday Night Football” on NBC, host the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 19 in Mexico City on “Monday Night Football,” and host the Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 16 on “Sunday Night Football.”


The Rams’ reward for last season’s performance: A seemingly tougher schedule.

Four opponents made the playoffs in 2017 — the Eagles (13-3), Chiefs (10-6), Vikings (13-3) and New Orleans Saints (11-5). The Seattle Seahawks (9-7), Chargers (9-7) and Detroit Lions (9-7) also finished with winning records.

A game-by-game look at the regular-season schedule:

Sept. 10: at Oakland, 7:20 p.m. PST, (ESPN) — Sean McVay squares off against mentor Jon Gruden for the first time when it really counts. It’s a homecoming for new Rams cornerback Marcus Peters, who grew up in Oakland.


Sept. 16: ARIZONA, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 11) — New coach Steve Wilks has former Ram Sam Bradford as Carson Palmer’s successor at quarterback. Can Bradford’s balky knees withstand pressure from Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers?

Sept. 23: CHARGERS, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 2) — They’ll be sharing a new stadium in two years, so this might be the only chance to see the teams play a meaningful game without purchasing a stadium seat license.

Sept. 27: MINNESOTA , 5:20 p.m., (Ch. 11) — Sean McVay could not stop former pupil Kirk Cousins from leading the Washington Redskins to victory last season. Cousins — with a new, guaranteed $84 million contract — will try to do it again with a new team.

Oct. 7: at SEATTLE, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 11) — The Rams appeared to tip the balance of power in the NFC West last season at Century Link Field when they blew out the Seahawks 42-7. Now, can they maintain it?

Oct. 14: at Denver, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 11) — Rams cornerback Aqib Talib won a Super Bowl with the Broncos and probably will receive a warm welcome. Broncos quarterback Case Keenum beat the Rams last season while playing for the Vikings.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff passes against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of a preseason exhibition game on Aug. 19, 2017.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press )

Oct. 21: at SAN FRANCISCO, 5:20 p.m., (Ch. 4) — In his last trip home, Bay Area native Jared Goff passed for 292 yards and three touchdowns in victory over the 49ers. This time, Richard Sherman will be in the secondary.

Oct. 28: GREEN BAY , 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 11) — The last time Aaron Rodgers played in the Coliseum, he completed 23 consecutive passes for California in a dramatic 23-17 defeat by USC. Former Trojans linebacker Clay Matthews also celebrates a homecoming.


Nov. 4: at New Orleans, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 11) — Running back Alvin Kamara gave the Rams fits last season at the Coliseum. It won’t get easier indoors on turf, as Kamara takes handoffs and catches passes from future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.

Nov. 11: SEATTLE, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 2) — The Seahawks fired assistants and traded or released big-name players such as Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman. Russell Wilson still needs an offensive line and weapons.

Nov. 19: KANSAS CITY at Mexico City, 5:15 p.m., (ESPN) — After playing “home” games in London the last two seasons, the Rams travel south of the border for the first time. They’ll see a familiar face: Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins.

Dec. 2: at Detroit, 10 a.m., (Ch. 11) – New Lions coach Matt Patricia has a greater challenge scheming against the Rams than he did in 2016 as New England’s defensive coordinator. Quarterback Matt Stafford plays against Suh, his old teammate.

Dec. 9: at Chicago, 11 a.m., (Ch. 11) — The Bears attempted to replicate the Rams’ model, hiring a young offense-minded coach in Matt Nagy to develop second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The Rams are 0-2 at Soldier Field since winning there in 2003.

Dec. 16: PHILADELPHIA, 5:20 p.m. (Ch. 4) — Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz returns to the Coliseum, where he suffered a season-ending knee injury that kept him from playing in the Super Bowl.

Dec. 23: at ARIZONA, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 11) — In a best-case scenario for the Rams, they would be moving toward repeating as NFC West champs. The Rams have not lost on the road against the Cardinals since 2014.

Dec. 30: SAN FRANCISCO, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 11) — Jimmy Garoppolo finished his undefeated debut with the 49ers last season by picking apart a Rams defense resting starters for the playoffs. Donald and new additions Suh, Talib and Peters will be in the lineup this time.


Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein

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