I’m going to be very honest with everyone for a second. I have a really bad feeling about Sunday’s Rams-49ers matchup. I don’t exactly know why, but this is the same feeling I had before the Detroit game, and we all saw how that turned out. This is probably the biggest game for the Rams in the last three years, and I hope I get to say that a few more times this season, but as of now, this is it. With all that being said, let’s look at the keys to the game for the Rams.
Heisman Showdown – For those of you who may have forgotten, Troy Smith and Sam Bradford are both former Heisman winners. The quarterback matchup could very well decide this game, and while there is no doubt in my mind that Sam is a better player, Smith really scares me. I still haven’t figured out exactly why, but he does. I think he will make some mistakes, but something about him just makes me nervous. If we can keep him from hurting us with his legs, I think it could go a long way in getting a win.
Road Woes – It’s no secret by now that the Rams have really struggled on the road this season. We have lost some winnable games on the road already, so it will be interesting to see how this team responds in this test. The old cliche is that the first one is always the hardest, and I think that if this team gets a road win and proves to themselves they can do it, the confidence level could reach a new high.
Bye-Bye – Both of these teams are coming off a bye week, and both are relatively healthy. Which coaching staff did a better job preparing their players for this game? Which group of guys used the week to focus and prepare, and which group just took time off? These are all questions that will be answered tomorrow. I would like to think that the Rams have the advantage when it comes to coaching, but we will find out.
Big Targets – Both of these teams are going to run the ball, but the team that gets production in the receiving game could end up on top. This category worries me. The Niners might not have great quarterback play, but they do have weapons like Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. We don’t have anyone on this team who is a threat like these two guys, so the defense will have to keep them in check. Also, I know I sound like a broken record, but someone in our receiving corps has to step up. Maybe it will be Mardy Gilyard or Brandon Gibson, but someone has to do it.
As far as my prediction goes, as much as it pains me to do it, I’m going to have to give this one to the Niners. The Rams haven’t proven they can win on the road, and I just don’t feel great about this one. I’m going 21-20 San Fran, and I hope I’m wrong.