Football officially began last night, with the Denver Broncos blowout win over the Baltimore Ravens. However, the real season starts on Sunday, when the St. Louis Rams take on the Arizona Cardinals in the Edward Jones Dome for their season opener. For the first time in a long while, the mainstream NFL media appears to be “favoring” the Rams, to some extent. That was very apparent in the the “experts” first round of weekly predictions. Instead combing through the internet for the best picks and predictions for the Rams-Cardinals, Ramblin’ Fan cut out the work, putting all of the best one right here in one place! Enjoy.
While Cardinals- Rams might not offer the juice of Ravens- Broncos or Falcons- Saints, this should be an entertaining game. The central storyline here is this: Will Carson Palmer’s offensive line be able to protect him against the Rams’ front four? If Palmer goes down five times and averages just 6 yards per passing attempt (like he did in the preseason), the Cardinals will lose. The Rams should be able to run the football well enough with Daryl Richardson so that quarterback Sam Bradford doesn’t have to put the whole game on his own shoulders. Arizona stays in this one with a big play from Patrick Peterson or Tyrann Mathieu, both extremely dangerous when they get their hands on the ball. #AZvsSTL 23-20 Rams (OT)
Watch the two rookies in this one: Rams receiver Tavon Austin and Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu. They should go head-to-head plenty when Austin lines up in the slot. I bet they both make their share of plays, but Austin and the Rams will make a few more. 27-20 Rams
Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer look to start their Arizona Cardinals tenures off right as they travel to the Gateway to the West to take on the St. Louis Rams. Last season the Rams defense feasted on the Cardinals quarterbacks for a total of 11 sacks, 9 of which came in their Thursday Night Football beat down at the Edward Jones Dome. While the Cardinals haven’t done much to improve their offensive line (1st round Guard Jonathan Cooper is on the IR), they did sign Carson Palmer who is one of the least sacked QBs over the past 5 years. Palmer is a savvy veteran who will be able to see where the pressure is coming from and get the ball out quick to limit the Rams sack numbers, but pressures and hurries will likely come early and often. The Rams on the other hand have one of the best offensive lines they have had in a decade, with explosive young playmakers lined up all over the formation on both sides of the ball. There may be some rookie mistakes made by this young team, but there will almost certainly be plenty of fireworks as well. Everyone is chomping at the bit to see electric rookie receiver Tavon Austin, who should have plenty of opportunities to impact the game as a receiver, runner or punt returner. Sam Bradford has looked very sharp so far this preseason and with his familiarity with the offense, and the addition of dynamic playmakers like Jared Cook and Tavon Austin he could be set for a huge season. I expect Austin to have at least one 30+ yard punt return, as well as Givens having a 50+ yard reception as the Rams dazzle the home crowd en route to a comfortable season opening victory. Rams win 31 – 13
Frenz: Arizona still isn’t in any kind of shape to contend in the NFC West, while St. Louis bolstered its offensive weapons this offseason. Rams 30-10
Bardeen: Arizona may or may not be able to put points on the board with regularity, but it can definitely stop St. Louis from scoring at will. Cardinals 27-14
Some sites prefer to merely throw out their picks, instead of outlining boldly predicted scores. In USA Today, seven out of seven analysts picked the St. Louis Rams over the Arizona Cardinals. In the Week 1 “expert picks” for ESPN, 12 out of 14 picked the St. Louis Rams to win, with only Mike Golic and Mike Ditka choosing against the presumed favorites. In CBS Sports’ “Against the Spread” predictions, the vote is split 50/50, with the Rams sets as a +4.5 point winner on Sunday. However, in their “Straight Up” picks, all eight voters took the St. Louis Rams as the victor.
Being “favored” is not something that most in Rams Nation are used to. Hopefully we’ll all have the hang of it by the end of the season!