October 21, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked by St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (94) during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Rams vs. Green Bay Packers: 5 Bold Predictions


Typically, you would save the “bold predictions” for the regular season. However, in the spirit of the first preseason game where starters may see significant playing time, Ramblin’ Fan figured we would dust off fortune-teller hat and bust out some game-day predictions for the Rams against the Packers. Naturally, some of these might be a little skewed, with starters likely to head to the bench around halftime. However, they wouldn’t be “bold” if there wasn’t some risk involved. Anyways, without further ado, here are Ramblin’ Fan’s five bold predictions for the game against Green Bay…


1. The “starting” defensive line will register, at least, 3 sacks against Aaron Rodgers in the first half

Last season, the Rams got blowout by the Green Bay Packers during their mid-season slump. While Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay skill players were beginning to heat up, on their way to stealing the NFC North crown from the down-spiraling, Jay Cutler-less Chicago Bears, their offensive line had yet to get the memo. In the opening quarter of that game, Aaron Rodgers was sacks four times, by four different players (i.e. Quinn, Langford, Hayes, and Brockers). Once the Pack grabbed the lead, the “sack party” was over, likely due to a combination of alterations to play calling, offensive line adjustments, and Aaron Rodgers unloading the rock a bit more quickly. With Bryan Bulaga gone, there isn’t an offensive tackle on the Packers’ roster that can handle the speed rush from Robert Quinn off the left side of the line. Tack on the fact that Michael Brockers will be in “full health” and the rest of the defensive line rotation is still thoroughly intact, and you have a perfect storm for another opening half sack party.


2. Daryl Richardson will score an offensive touchdown

This may not seem like that bold of a prediction, especially considering the Richardson saw significant snaps last preseason and took 98 rushes during the 2012 regular season. However, miraculously, the Rams’ new “featured back” has yet to score an offensive touchdown… ever.

After the last preseason game, Rams Nation took to Twitter to ask Richardson about his “consummating touchdown.” With his style of running, the drought can only last so long. We say, it ends tonight!


3.  Trumaine Johnson will play more 1st-team defensive snaps than Will Witherspoon

What that really indicates is that the St. Louis Rams’ defensive starters will player more out of the nickel package than their 4-3 base defensive. After the Jo-Lonn Dunbar suspension, Jeff Fisher essentially handed the keys to the starting “rightside linebacker” spot to Witherspoon, right after damning Dunbar for his “selfish” actions. However, against pass-oriented offenses last season, the St. Louis Rams relied heavily on the nickel package over their base defense. In fact, in the Week 7 matchup against the Packers, Bradley Fletcher played 75% of the defensive snaps (53 out of 70), with Mario Haggan and Rocky McIntosh combining for only 25% (17 out of 70). With Fletcher out of the picture, Johnson is the “next man up” in the nickel package, and should be expected to see a similarly large proportion of snaps with the 1st-team.


4. Jared Cook and Tavon Austin will score a touchdown 

This may be more of a wish than an expectation, but both players are primed for big games against a spotty Green Bay back-eight. Sam Bradford, historically, has thrown at his best against 3-4 base defenses, including his 2012 performances against the Washington Redsksins (310 yards, 3 touchdowns), San Francisco 49ers (275 yards, 2 touchdowns), and Miami Dolphins (315 yards, 1 rushing touchdown). Specifically against Green Bay, Bradford will likely look to target the middle of the field, with Green Bay’s coverage “strength” being in their cornerbacks, and their weakness being the coverage abilities of the linebacker corps and the safeties; that is where Cook and Austin dominate. As an added bonus to this particular “bold prediction,” Tavon Austin will likely get, at least, one or two punt returns tonight. Austin can score anytime he has the ball in his hands and an open field in front of him…


5. Greg Zuerlein will hit a preseason-long field goal

For those who do not follow the St. Louis Rams, that statement may sound like the most boring prediction that the NFL world has ever seen. However, if the do follow the Rams, or at least read the box score from the Cleveland game, you would know that Zuerlein has already hit from 54- and 55-yards this preseason. Jeff Fisher would love to “unleash the leg” in the Edwards Jones Dome, especially in the home opener. If the Rams are somewhere in the 55 to 65 yard range heading into halftime, look for Zuerlein to his shot from long-distance.

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  • ricdram

    Nathan I hope you are a Prophet !
    Despite the Dunbar, Pead & Rok “speed
    bumps” the Rams are gonna overcome.
    GSOT2.0 might be premature but what
    the hell lets BRING IT ! GO RAMS !

  • Beer O’Clock

    Well, we can clearly see that Nathan isn’t a prophet.

    All things considered, the safety and OLB performance is worse than last year. The Rams still seem to have a major problem converting third downs. Tavon Austin actually plays like a rookie (imagine that). Steven Jackson is no longer around and, so far, it appears he will be greatly missed. Penalties, like last year, are a major problem both stalling drives on offensive and giving second and third chances on defense. Saffold is once again injured. The second and third team offensive lines are extremely poor. Tackling is worse than last year. Their backup QBs are painfully underskilled. Isaah Pead is a bust.

    I realize this is only the second preseason game, but the Rams are showing their youth and glaring holes in the roster are becoming hard to ignore (though Rams fans routinely continue to ignore them). And, it’s becoming painfully obvious that problems that plagued them last year have returned for another season.

    There’s a lot to like about this year’s Rams. Sam Bradford looks like a top notch QB and playing with confidence. Chris Givens is a stud at WR, Jared Cook will be an elite TE/slot receiver. Tavon Austin’s quickness and speed provides a third weapon that defenses will have to be mindful of–the combination of the three receivers will be very hard to defend and even harder when Kendricks is added to the equation. Richardson has shown he’s a fine RB and is clearly a cut above the rest of what the Rams have to offer. Zac Stacy will soon be the possible exception. The defensive line will be among the best and the Rams are strong at MLB and CB.

    Still, two weeks in a row the starters on defense have been carved up effortlessly, especially due to poor OLB and safety play. We knew safety was a potential serious problem, but Ogletree was supposed to fill a major gap in the defense. It’s becoming apparent that this will take longer than expected. I have no doubt Ogletree will be a fine player, but his learning curve could be problematic.

    I really like Coach Fisher and I’m confident the Rams will be a force in the future. But, Fisher has his work cut out for him between now and the start of the season if the Rams expect to be a contender in the NFC West in 2013. I expect Fisher and Snead to be very active as other teams start releasing some mid-level talent in late August and early September.
    Being the youngest team in the NFL gives the Rams tremedous potential but, as we are seeing, there’s a lot of liability too.

    • Nathan Kearns

      Rough first outing for the “Bold Predictions” series, although, I suppose they wouldn’t be bold if they all were to come true, right?

      It is hard to argue against the poor performances over the last couple of weeks, but I wouldn’t go so far as to project them into the regular season.

      The offensive difficultly, in this particular game, were, for the most part, a product of the coaching staff attempting to force carries on Isaiah Pead. In fact, Fisher mentioned during his presser that the had to “abandon the gameplan” when Green Bay started stacking the line when Pead was in the backfield. By announcing they were starting Isaiah over Richardson, they announced to the whole world that they would be promoting a run-heavy offense with the first-teamers. It is no surprise that they were not very effective moving the ball early on…

      The defensive holes were pretty obvious as well, but it is still clear that the St. Louis Rams had not installed an “advanced” defensive gameplan for the Packers. Most of the coverages were some form of a soft zone, which is never a good idea against an Aaron Rodgers-led offense. Even then, they stonewalled the Pack in the redzone twice with the first-team defense. No one like the “bend, but don’t break” defense, but it certainly better than the “bend, and then break” defense, right?

      Next week, we should be seeing a “truer” version of the St. Louis Rams, although I have a feeling the offense will continue to hold their cards close to their chest. If they can clean up some of the tackling issues in the secondary, the defense could make a drastic step forward on the field. Moreover, if they actually implement some man-to-man schemes, which both Finnegan and Jenkins thrive under, they should see more pressure on the quarterback, and less “ease” from the opposing offense moving the ball down the field.

      You are right though, we can only hope that the Rams’ coaching staff can help address the fundamental issues on both sides of the football. I also have a feeling that Fisher and Co. will definitely be looking for some FA help, especially if some mid-tier FS somehow becomes available.

      Hopefully this team is more “potential” and less “liability” by the start of the regular season. Thanks for the comment, as always ;)

  • Beer O’Clock

    Nice response, Nathan. I agree.

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