Another week, another round of “experts” picking against the St. Louis Rams for reasons they can’t quite put their finger on. Some look at the quarterbacks and cannot possibly believe that the less-than-dynamic Sam Bradford could conquer the all-mighty poster-boy that is Cam Newton. Others look at the St. Louis Rams through the last couple of weeks, and merely chalk up the numbers to luck or “poor quality” of opponents, especially after their performance in Week 3 and 4. Other “paid analysts” have absolutely no idea about either team, pick two numbers out of a hat, and throw the win to the home team, because… why not, right? In reality, this should be a solid matchup between two NFC Wild Card-hopefuls battling to stay relevant in the early post-season fight. The Carolina Panthers, being the home team, have naturally received plenty of support this week. Will anyone pick the Rams to come out on top?
The Rams defense came alive in Houston last weekend and showed they can perform outside of St. Louis. The Panthers have Cam Newton. I’m all in on that dude. I’ve been all in since the very start. Games like this are the ones he needs to win to be put in that Wilson, Luck, Kaepernick conversation. He will.
The Pick: Panthers 31, Rams 23
The Panthers have a little something something to be proud of on defense this season, with an NFC-best 13.6 points allowed per game, and ranking third in yards allowed. And let’s hear it for linebacker Thomas Davis, the longtime Carolina veteran who earned the NFC Defensive Player of the Week honor for a two-sack, 10-tackle showing in last week’s 35-10 blowout win at Minnesota. Davis’ hard-luck story is well-known. He tore the ACL in the same knee three times in less than two years, but is back in top playmaking form. Carolina 27, St. Louis 17
MDS’s take: The Rams are coming off a dominant win over the Texans and are, at 3-3, a lot better than most people thought they’d be. But Carolina is playing excellent defense, and St. Louis is playing mediocre offense, and so I like the Panthers to win a low-scoring game at home.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 17, Rams 9.
Florio’s take: Here’s a game that likely will be underrated but could produce a potential wild-card contender in the NFC. Both teams have been inconsistent, and both teams won in Week Six over franchises currently in a funk. Edge goes to the home team, as long as the Panthers can get the upper hand early.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 24, Rams 21.
Some sites prefer to merely throw out their picks, instead of outlining boldly predicted scores. In the Week 6 “expert picks” for ESPN, 10 out of 14 picked the Carolina Panthers to win, although a choice few, like KC Joyner, Mike Ditka, and Chris Mortensen, did choose against the presumed favorites. In CBS Sports’ “Against the Spread” predictions, five out of eight went with the “underdog” Rams, with the (2-3) Panthers set as a +6.5 point favorite on Sunday. However, in their “Straight Up” picks, the voters were unanimous in their decision to take the Panthers over the Rams on Sunday.
Last week, the St. Louis Rams opened as +7.5 underdogs to the spiraling Houston Texans. To return that love to Vegas, they destroyed the spread, winning the game by 25 points, the largest margin in Rams history since 2001. Taking home the “W” in the battle against Carolina would require winning their second-consecutive road game against a heavily-favored opponent. Are the new-look St. Louis Rams up to the task? We’ll find out on Sunday…