The Rams 2012 home opener is tomorrow and they will welcome Robert Griffin III to the Edward Jones Dome. You would have to be living under a rock not to know who RG3 is following his sensational performance against the New Orleans Saints. Hall of Fame coach and sound bite machine John Madden described RG3 as a Tim Tebow that could throw. I am not sure exactly what that means but that is what makes it vintage Madden. Speaking of Madden my favorite meaningless game predictor is the Madden Simulations run by EA Sports over on ESPN. As with all predictions it should be taken with a grain of salt and Madden 13 went 8-8 in week 1. The simulation predicts a 35-17 victory for the Redskins with RG3 going 16/23 for 206 yards 2 TD and no interceptions. In the simulation RG3 out-duels Bradford who throws for 213 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT and Roy Helu Jr. outperforms Steven Jackson by rushing for over 100 yards with 2 TD.
Its not just the Madden video game that is high on the Redskins, in fact you have to look pretty hard to find anyone picking the Rams to win this weekend. Of the 12 experts picking for ESPN only Wickersham has picked the Rams, of course he went 12-4 in week 1 so there’s a silver lining for you. It is amazing what a rookie sensation can do for an NFL team especially when that team is in a major media market like Washington D.C. Of course beating the Saints at the Superdome in week 1 has earned them some of that hype, even if they were being coached by Aaron Kromer instead of Sean Payton. The value of good coaching in the NFL can not be overstated as Rams fans are well aware of. Mike Shanahan vs some guy you’ve probably never heard of is a clear mismatch in the coaching department and was probably a huge factor in the upset. This weekend the coaching will be much more evenly matched between Fisher and Shanahan.
The oddsmakers have the Redskins as 4 point favorites which in NFL lines is a very slight edge. So will the Rams cover the spread this weekend against the suddenly electric Redskins? If you checked out the weekly picks article here at Ramblinfan than you already know my answer to that question. Not only will the Rams cover the spread but they will pick up a win in their home opener by bringing RG3 back down to earth. I do believe RG3 will have a solid performance this weekend, but expecting him to put up the same kind of numbers as last week is very unrealistic. If the Rams defense can pick off Stafford 3 times and hold one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL to 13 points into the 4th quarter they should be able to limit Griffin’s production as well. The Redskins don’t have near the level of talent at WR that the Lions have, especially with Pierre Garcon listed as questionable on the injury report. Calvin Johnson commands a double team on nearly every snap which severely limited the Rams ability to bring pressure against Stafford, especially late in the game during the Lions two scoring drives. The Rams defense should be able to force some mistakes from the rookie sensation and provide some favorable situations to the offense.
So what do the Rams need to do tomorrow to come away with the victory? The defense needs to play disciplined and not try to do too much, which is what cost them on the final touchdown play of the game last weekend. They need to contain RG3 and make him more of a pocket passer and see if he can complete passes against a vastly improved secondary. If the Rams can limit the big play they should have a great shot at coming away with the W. The offense needs to do a much better job of running the football than they did last weekend. Getting Steven Jackson on track will open up the play action passing game. It would be great to see the Rams take some shots down-field to Givens or Quick but if the run game isn’t effective there is little chance the offensive line will be able to provide Bradford with that much time. The Rams offense needs to improve on their 3rd down efficiency and sustain some drives. Look for the dink and dunk passing game coupled with a heavy dose of the running game. If the Rams can limit the big play and sustain some drives they should have a great shot at winning this game. My prediction is Rams win 24-13. Go Rams!!