August 18, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) talks with quarterback Sam Bradford (8) in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams won 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
Hello Rams fans and welcome to the regular season! The Dallas Cowboys victory over the New York Giants on Wednesday night means that the NFL season has officially started. Now that football is finally back it is time to take a look at the Rams first regular season match up. Tomorrow the Rams will be in the Motor City to take on the Detroit Lions. I have yet to see any of the experts pick the Rams to win this game and quite frankly you really can’t blame them. The Lions have an explosive offense with a talented former #1 overall pick at quarterback and one of the best wide receivers in the game. They are coming off of a 10-6 season in which they made the playoffs for the first time since 1999. The Rams are coming off an injury riddled 2-14 season and are at the beginning of a complete organizational overhaul. So is there any hope for the Rams to roll into Detroit and walk away with a win? While I certainly don’t anticipate a win, there are a few reasons why Rams fans shouldn’t be putting a check mark in the loss column just yet.
Steven Jackson. I have said it before and I will say it again, any game where Steven Jackson is on the field the Rams have a chance to win. The two biggest strengths of the Lions are their explosive offense and their defensive line. Of course their offense cannot stop Steven Jackson from having a huge day, and based on numbers from last season the defensive line probably can’t either. Yes the Lions do have a legitimate case for best defensive line in the NFL, however what they really excel at is rushing the passer not stuffing the run. Last year they surrendered 128.1 rushing yards per game ranking 23rd in the NFL. S-Jax will be given the ball early and often and should develop a rhythm against a defense that could be without several key players.
Sam Bradford. No Sam doesn’t have a true number one receiver to toss the ball to like his Lions counterpart, but he is still a very talented quarterback who will be working against a depleted secondary. If the offensive line can keep Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vandenbosh out of Sam’s face he should have a very good day. Expect the Rams to protect Bradford with lots of 3 step drops and play action passes. Of course having Amendola back on the field should make Bradford much more comfortable already.
Run Defense. I know that the Rams were the second worst team in the NFL against the run last year, and that the Lions will try to strike through the air to build a lead but just hear me out. The Rams have made several moves to improve their run defense this offseason and based on preseason results, where the Rams ranked 7th against the run, it appears to have worked. The Lions were 29th in the NFL last year at 95.2 yards per game and should be without Mikel Leshoure and Jahvid Best, leaving the bulk of the carries to Kevin Smith. With all respect to Kevin Smith I personally don’t believe defensive coordinators worry about him like they would about Leshoure or Best. The Rams should be able to make the Lions more or less one dimensional in this football game.
Aug 30, 2012; Detroit, MN, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) catches a pass in the end zone in the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills in a preseason game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US Presswire
All of these things should help the Rams to make this game more competitive than the last time they traveled to Detroit, but a win still seems to be a tall order. Even with all the Rams have done to improve their secondary this year I just don’t think they have an answer for Calvin Johnson. I am not sure that anyone in the NFL has an answer for Megatron, but if the Rams can limit him to less than 125 yards and 1 TD they should have a chance to win this game. If the Rams can keep the score close and lean on the broad shoulders of Steven Jackson they just might be able to sneak out of Motown with a huge victory. Go Rams!!!