St. Louis Rams
(7-8, 10-5 ATS)
(6-9, 6-9 ATS)
The Rams are trying to withhold at least some standards in the NFC West this year, as they can finish .500 and avoid the embarrassment of everyone in this division finishing at 7-9 or worse. QB Sam Bradford knows that this is the biggest game of his career, but we have to take a moment to realize just how remarkable of a run it has been. Bradford stepped right off of the airplane in St. Louis and knew that it was his ball, just as the ball has belonged to Detroit Lions QB Matt Stafford and Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan from Day 1 as well. Ryan led his team to the playoffs right away in his first season after a 1-15 year, and Bradford is trying to do exactly the same thing. The former Oklahoma Sooner has the numbers of a veteran this year, as he has thrown for 3,357 yards and 18 TDs against 14 picks with a team that really doesn’t have any depth whatsoever at wide receiver or tight end. However, RB Steven Jackson is deservingly heading to the Pro Bowl after a great campaign in which he rushed for 1,196 yards and six TDs.
There is a ton of pressure on Head Coach Pete Carroll right now. Not only was he really expected to lead the Seahawks to the NFC West title this year, but he knows that he really goofed when he let QB Matt Hasselbeck take too many snaps against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a meaningless game last week at Raymond James Stadium. Now, Hasselbeck is injured, and though he is considered a game time decision, he is probably going to be out with his strained hip. That leaves QB Charlie Whitehurst, who has been absolutely dreadful this year in relief of the veteran. The former Clemson Tiger only threw for 315 yards and had one TD against three picks in five games, including one start. In that start against the New York Giants, the Birds were absolutely manhandled on both sides of the ball here at Qwest Field, and that’s why the oddsmakers think that the Rams have the best chance of winning this division title.
Just as this has been a ridiculously tough division to pick games in all year long, this is once again a terribly hard game to figure out how to make a selection in. The bottom line here though, is that the Rams really deserve this division crown as a team that has overachieved all season long, and though they aren’t a threat to win the Super Bowl, just going to the playoffs and hosting a first round game would be a tremendous reward. We hope that they get the job done and walk out of Qwest Field with a playoff berth in tote.
NFL Free Pick: St. Louis Rams -3