In 2013, one team that could easily become the NFL’s breakthrough contender is the St. Louis Rams. Smart drafts and the coaching of Jeff Fisher could provide a playoff berth this season. NFL betting handicappers should keep an eye for this squad.
Best Offseason Move:
The Rams enjoyed a spectacular draft, making the kinds of selections that will really help out quarterback Sam Bradford, the man who needs to be able to perform at a high level in order for this franchise to return to the playoffs.
The Rams were a regular playoff team in the first several years of the new century, but in recent years, the well has run dry. Last season, Jeff Fisher – who lost to the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV (January 2000) as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans – took over the team in a rebuilding year. He saw what he had to work with and is intent on reaching the playoffs in year two. He obviously felt that he needed to give Bradford, his franchise signal caller, as much skill-position talent as possible. He hit two home runs in the draft by landing two receivers from the same school.
If you watched college football in 2012, you noticed the shootouts that littered the Big 12 Conference. One team that participated in many such video games was West Virginia, which boasted the tag-team receiving combination of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. One will recall how the early-2000s Rams teams, with Marshall Faulk at running back and Isaac Bruce joining Torry Holt at receiver, were called “The Greatest Show On Turf,” a nod to the fact that on the artificial surface of their enclosed stadium, the Edward Jones Dome, their speed flourished. An aggressive passing attack operates well in climate-controlled conditions, and so the Rams – in 2013 – seem to be making a concerted effort to return to those roots. Austin and Bailey are both lightning-quick. They thrive when they’re able to get the ball in open space. They are both hard to defend individually; as a tandem, they are likely to drive opposing defenses, defensive coordinators, and defense backs absolutely bonkers. The Rams’ philosophy – given that they play home games in a dome – is exactly what it should be. Austin and Bailey are going to make Bradford a better and more effective quarterback.
Worst Offseason Move:
The obvious hit the Rams absorbed in the offseason was and is the loss of running back Steven Jackson, who football betting heads recognized as a first-rate workhorse for the organization over the course of many years. Jackson was a dependable short-yardage back who also possessed above-average speed. It’s true that Jackson was a more powerful back than Marshall Faulk, which means that in a certain sense, he’s not quite as natural a fit for an aggressive pass-first offense, but his athleticism and skill made him valuable for the Rams regardless of the stylistic adjustments Fisher had in mind. There will certainly be times this season (short-yardage and goal-line situations) when the Rams lament the absence of Jackson on a field. Quality is its own value – even if a team is trying to remake itself, the loss of a quality player often means more than the degree to which that quality player might not have been compatible with an offense. Quality players are, in a profound sense, always compatible with a team, because you can never have too much excellence. Steven Jackson could cast a long shadow over the Rams’ upcoming season.
How They’ll Finish In The Division:
The Rams are a very intriguing team. They still need to see Bradford deliver the goods, but they’ve given him so much help that the field general from the University of Oklahoma should make some forward strides this season. San Francisco and Seattle will be very hard to deal with, but the Rams just might have enough resources to at least produce a winning record. A 10-6 mark is the goal, but St. Louis plays in the wrong division this year.
Super Bowl Odds: +3000