The Rams’ road to the Super Bowl last season was not easy. It included a stretch of three consecutive road games, a last-minute location change for an International Series game in Mexico and consecutive December road trips to the cold Midwest.
The travel might be tougher this season.
After avoiding it completely in 2018, the Rams will play four games in the Eastern time zone and a “home” game in London.
One thing is clear: The Rams’ Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots did not diminish their star power.
Quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, coach Sean McVay and company are once again scheduled for five prime-time games.
They play on the road against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 22 on “Sunday Night Football,” on the road against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 3 on “Thursday Night Football,” at home Nov. 17 against the Chicago Bears on “Sunday Night Football,” at home Nov. 25 against the Baltimore Ravens on “Monday Night Football” and at home Dec. 8 against the Seahawks on “Sunday Night Football.”
McVay said this week that his players would avoid the, ‘‘OK, you’ll be right back,’” to the Super Bowl line of thinking.
“Our players and our coaches are all smart enough to know that this league is too competitive,” McVay said. “Too many good players and coaches for us not to continue to focus on getting better – look at the things that we can clean up from last year and then continue to try to do the things that we did at a high level and do them even better this year.”
Here is a game-by-game look at the regular-season schedule:
Sept. 8: at Carolina, 10 a.m., (Ch. 11) -- The Rams go across the country – among the farthest they will travel domestically during the season – to open against quarterback Cam Newton and running back Christian McCaffrey.
Sept. 15: NEW ORLEANS, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 11) – Coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees are coming to the Coliseum, and we can only hope the new rule allowing coaches to challenge noncalls by officials on possible pass-interference infractions comes into play.
Sept. 22: at Cleveland, 5:20 p.m., (Ch. 4) – Two years ago, no one would have predicted a “Sunday Night Football” matchup between these teams. Now both are star-studded – hello Odell Beckham Jr.! – and worthy of prime-time exposure.
Sept. 29: TAMPA BAY, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 11) – New Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians knows the Rams well from his years with the Arizona Cardinals. The question: Can Arians consistently bring out the best in quarterback Jameis Winston?
Oct. 3: at Seattle, 5:20 p.m., (Ch. 11, NFL Network, Amazon) – With a new $140-million contract in hand, quarterback Russell Wilson will try to do something he has not been able to accomplish in the last two seasons – finish ahead of the Rams.
Oct. 13: SAN FRANCISCO, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 11) – Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is coming off a knee injury that sidelined him for the 49ers’ final 13 games last season. The last time the Rams saw him, he beat Rams reserves in the 2017 finale.
Oct. 20: at Atlanta, 10 a.m., (Ch. 11) – The Rams return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the offense stalled in their Super Bowl defeat. The Falcons have not been the same since their Super Bowl meltdown against the Patriots to end the 2016 season.
Oct. 27: vs. CINCINNATI at Wembley Stadium, London, 10 a.m., (Ch. 2) – Zac Taylor was a Rams assistant receivers coach in 2017 and quarterbacks coach last season. Now he’s the coach of the Bengals and ready to match wits with mentor McVay.
Nov. 10: at Pittsburgh, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 11) – What might be the Rams’ only cold-weather game doubles as a homecoming for star defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who gets to play before family and friends. Former Rams linebacker Mark Barron is now with the Steelers.
Nov. 17: CHICAGO, 5:20 p.m., (Ch. 4) – It might not be as intense as when the Packers came to town last season, but Bears fans and Midwestern transplants are expected to turn out en masse to see their beloved team.
Nov. 25: BALTIMORE, 5:15 p.m., (ESPN) – New Rams safety Eric Weddle goes against his former team, which includes new star safety Earl Thomas. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson makes this a worthy “Monday Night Football” matchup.
Dec. 1: at Arizona, 1:05 p.m., (Ch. 11) – McVay offered Kliff Kingsbury a chance to join the Rams after he was fired by Texas Tech. But Kingsbury opted for a very short stint at USC before the Cardinals hired him to beat McVay.
Dec. 8: SEATTLE, 5:20 p.m. (Ch. 4) – The Seahawks rushed the ball effectively down the stretch in 2018, and advanced to the playoffs in what was regarded as one of Pete Carroll’s best coaching efforts. Can they do it again?
Dec. 15: at Dallas, 1:25 p.m. (Ch. 11) – The Rams’ only game in the Central time zone comes against the defending NFC East champions. Quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and newly rich defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence seek to avenge last season’s playoff defeat.
Dec. 21 or 22: at San Francisco, TBD – Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch went into their third season at the helm of the 49ers with a 10-22 record. But if the 49ers truly turn around, this game might figure prominently in the NFC West race.
Dec. 29: ARIZONA, 1:25 p.m., (Ch. 11) – The Rams play the Cardinals for the second time in the final five weeks. Will they be able to rest their starters, as they did in the 2017 finale at the Coliseum? Or will this game decide the division?
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein