August 16, 2011

2011 NFL Betting Preview: St. Louis Rams

Saint Louis Rams (7-9, 10-6 ATS, 2nd Place in NFC West)

Not much was expected of the St. Louis Rams last season, but they managed to go 7-9. The Rams narrowly missed out on a shocking playoff berth. Steve Spagnuolo clearly made a big difference for this team. The Rams defense went from 31st in the NFL in points allowed per game to 12th in the NFL in just one year. In addition, it didn’t hurt that rookie quarterback Sam Bradford was masterful. Bradford didn’t have many weapons to work with, and the offensive line was suspect at times, but he still put up some extremely impressive numbers. The Rams turned things around last year. Can they get to the top of the division this season?

As long as Bradford stays healthy, the Rams will be set when it comes to the quarterback spot. He worked with what was probably the worst receiving corps in the NFL last year, but he was still able to put up 3,512 yards in his rookie campaign. If he continues to improve, Bradford will be among the elite signal callers in the league in the next year or two. Steven Jackson is still one of the better running backs in the league, and the Rams now have Cadillac Williams and Jerrius Norwood to back him up. Danny Amendola stepped up as an impressive slot receiver last year, but the team is still lacking in wide receiver star power. The Rams hope Mark Clayton or Mike Sims-Walker can step up this season. Keep an eye on Lance Kendricks at the tight end spot as well, because he has the ability to be a special receiver over the middle.

While it might not have received the attention that some other pickups did, the Rams bringing in Harvey Dahl to shore up the offensive line was a tremendous move for this team. Dahl will help the right side of the line, where Jason Smith had problems at time last year. Josh McDaniels should also give the Rams a boost offensively. McDaniels was a bust as a head coach, but he is still a great offensive coordinator.

As mentioned earlier, the huge improvement in the Rams defense last year was the single biggest reason this team jumped in the standings. James Laurinaitis is the leader of the defense, and he has turned into one of the best linebackers in the league. The Rams also have a terrific defensive front. Chris Long absolutely dominated on the outside last year, and Fred Robbins plugged up the middle of the line. Right end James Hall benefited from all the attention being paid to Long, and he picked up a career high 10.5 sacks. The Rams added Robert Quinn on the defensive line, and I expect this to be a real area of strength for the team. Quinten Mikell was added in the offseason, and he’ll be a big upgrade at the back of the defense. This defense isn’t great, but they are much better than most realize.

Saint Louis Rams 2011-2012 NFL Prediction: 9-7 (1st Place in NFC West)

The Rams have a brutal schedule to start the season. The key for this team will be how they hold up if they do get behind the eight ball a bit at the start of the season. The schedule gets quite easy down the stretch, and I think this young team will be hitting stride at that point. I like the direction this team is taking, and I believe they’ll be the best team in the NFC West this year.

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Kyle Hunter

is full-timesports writer and sports handicapper. You simply won’t find someone who loves sports more than Kyle. Kyle considers college football and college basketball his two favorite sports. Kyle has earned many accolades for his highly successful handicapping, and he writes full-time for many top sports websites. Keep an eye out for high quality free sports analysis from Kyle!

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